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Gift of 
Rt. Rev. Msgr. Joseph F. Srriith,V.G. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2010 with funding from 

Lyrasis IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 


A Collection of Cases in Moral 
and Pastoral Theology 

Volume V 



Lector of Sacred Theology 


Professor of Dogmatic Theology in The Catholic 

Foreign Mission Seminary, Ossining, N. Y. 


irilitt ®biitat 


Censor Librorum 



ArchbisJiop of New York 

New York, Decembeh 4, 1917 

Copyright, 1917, by Joseph F. Wagner (Inc.), New York 


The previous volumes of the Casuist series have been so cordially 
welcomed by priests and students that it has been a pleasure to 
prepare and arrange this new volume for its readers. The analysis 
of moral problems is most useful for all engaged in the ministry. 
As teachers and directors of souls they are constantly called upon to 
give guidance and instruction concerning the way that leads to ever- 
lasting life. But moral principles, though luminous in themselves, 
are oftentimes obscured as to their application by complications of 
facts that hinder the practical judgment. To propose and discuss 
the difficult problems that thus arise in the pastoral life is one of the 
main purposes of Cases of Conscience. 

Furthermore such concrete examples ought to be of great assis- 
tance in the elucidation of moral principles and the development 
of a ready and correct judgment in matters of conscience. Students 
of Moral Theology get a better grasp of the universal laws of 
their science when these are applied in particular instances. The 
practical illustration taken from the actual conditions that the 
student will later encounter gives added interest to the abstract 
study and assures it a firmer hold on the memory. But Cases of 
Conscience are especially valuable to the theological student as aids 
to the acquisition of that habit of mind which will enable him in 
forming and guiding consciences to apply surely and correctly the 
rules and laws whose mastery he has obtained. 

Accurate and adequate solutions of moral cases, however, are 
not always easy; indeed, they often present a task that requires 
the greatest thought and diligence. Yet there is genuine satisfaction 




in the labor; the matter is so important that one can hope the 
efforts will yield some fruit. 

Of the cases in the present volume the greater number has 
already appeared in print, chiefly in the Homiletic Monthly : these 
have been carefully revised and many have been re-written in whole 
or in part; the other cases are new. It has been the writer's aim 
to correct or complete the older cases whenever there was need 
on account of later legislation. He makes grateful acknowledgment 
to Very Rev. Stanislaus Woywod, O.F.M., the distinguished 
Canonist and Moralist, for much valuable assistance. 

The writer further has had in view the practical usefulness of 
the book for the daily work of the priest, and he has consequently 
excluded from its contents everything purely speculative and ab- 
struse. For the same reason it has seemed advisable to arrange 
the cases according to the order generally given to the different 
tracts of Moral Theology. In this way it is hoped the book will 
prove most serviceable, whether to the priest in his study, or to 
the professor and student in the class-room. 

The religious zeal of the clergy has been manifested in the popu- 
larity of the Casuist series. With the wish that this new volume 
may likewise be of interest and profit, it is humbly dedicated to 
their service. 

T. A. McHUGH, O. P. 



I. Habit 1 

II. Cooperation 4 

III. Formal and Material Cooperation 6 

IV. Doubt in Matters of Faith 9 

V. Coijunimicatio in Sacris Illicitae 14 

VI. Forgiving Injuries 15 

VII. Envy 17 

yill. When is Ownership Transferred ? 20 

IX. The Duty to Preserve One's Life 22 

X. The Necessity of Safeguarding Life 24 

XI. A Criminal Condemned to Death Bidden to Execute 

Himself 27 

XII. Justified Injury to the Neighbor, or, Vir Nocens lure suo 

Utendo 30 

XIII. Riding in Cars Without Paying Fare 33 

XIV. The Wife and Children of a Thief 36 

XV. Restitution by Possessor in Good Faith 40 

XVI. Restitution in the Case of an Insurance Agent 42 

XVII. Restitution on Account of Cooperation in Injustice 45 

XVIII. Payment of a Debt Owed to One Deceased 51 

XIX. A Druggist's Liability 53 

XX. Detraction 55 

XXI. Calumniating the Dead with Obligation of Restitution 

Quoad Famam 57 

XXII. Moral Impossibility of Restitution 61 

XXin. A Promise 65 

XXIV. Promise of Making a Donation 68 

XXV. A Buyer Concealing From the Seller the Real Value of 

Property 71 

XXVI. A Witness Withholding Facts 7Z 

XXVII. Morning and Evening Prayers 76 

XXVIII. Husband's Power Over the Vows of His Wife 78 

XXIX. Crystal-Gazing 81 

XXX. The Manifestation of a Secret 83 

XXXI. An Illegitimate Child's Question Regarding His Identity.. 85 

XXXII. Fasting 88 

XXXIII. Vocation 90 








































Forcing a Person to Enter the Convent 92 

A Gift Unlawfully Made by a Religious 95 

Dispensation from Solemn Vows 98 

The Form of Baptism 100 

What to do if a Non-Catholic Sponsorship Seems Un- 
avoidable 102 

The Intention Required in Adults for the Reception of 

Baptism 104 

Reiteration of Baptism 107 

Necessity of Confirmation 110 

Sponsors of Children Receiving Confirmation 113 

Non- Alcoholic Wine — Materia Valida? 115 

Receiving Holy Communion Several Times on the Same 

Day 120 

What Are the Conditions Under Which the Sick May 

Receive Holy Communion Though Not Fasting? 125 

Use of the Stomach Pump and Jejimium Naturale 131 

The Celebration of Holy Mass and the Natural Fast . . 134 

The Duty to Hear Mass on Sundays 136 

The Priest's Obligation of Daily Mass 139 

Ahruptio Missae 142 

Unlawful Mass Intentions 145 

The Quality of the Mass and the Stipend 149 

Gregorian Altar 151 

Reduction of the Number of Masses, or Reduction of 

the Stipend? 154 

The Turning Over of Mass Stipends 156 

Defective Confessions 160 

Sacrilegious Confessions 166 

Lying in Confession and Integra Confessio 168 

General Confession 172 

Feigning Scrupulousness in Confession 175 

Abstinence from Holy Communion given as a Penance. ... 176 

Lack of Absolution 179 

Expired Jurisdiction 181 

Absolution from Reserved Cases 183 

Absolution of Peregrini 186 

Absolution of Nuns 188 

Questioning a Penitent in the Confessional 191 

The Seal of Confession and Absolution 193 

A Hasty Decision 197, 




LXX. An Ignorant Penitent 199 

LXXI. Treatment of an Habitual Drunkard in the Confessional. . . 202 

LXXII, A Zealous Penitent Discouraged by Imperfections and 

Venial Sins 205 

LXXIII. Apparations of Poor Souls from Purgatory 210 

LXXIV. Street Confessions 216 

LXXV. Absolution on the Battlefield 218 

LXXVI. Indulgence of the Forty Hours 220 

LXXVII. The Scapular Medal 222 

LXXVIII. The Last Sacraments Sacrilegiously Received 224 

LXXIX. Conditional and Unconditional Administration of Extreme 

Unction in the Case of Unconsciousness 228 

LXXX. Extreme Unction Neglected 233 

LXXXI. Anointing the Feet 236 

LXXXII. Invalidity of Ordination 238 

LXXXIII. Invalid Ordination of a Penitent and the Seal of Confes- 
sion 241 

LXXXIV. A Marriage with Several Obstacles 244 

LXXXV. Marriage Contracted Conditionally 252 

LXXXVI. Misconduct Before Marriage 255 

LXXXVII. Breach of Faith Regarding the Education of Children in 

a Mixed Marriage 257 

LXXXVIII. Questions Regarding Mixed Marriages 261 

LXXXIX. Error and Matrimonial Consent 266 

XC. Marriage Contracted Through Fear 272 

XCI. Presumption of Life of a Missing Husband 276 

XCIL Spiritual Affinity 278 

XCIII. The Impediment of Crime 281 

XCIV. Dispensation from the Impediment of Crime 283 

XCV. A Case of the Decree "Ne Temere" 285 

XCVI. Marriage Before Two Witnesses 287 

XCVII. Cessation of Impediments 290 

XCVIII. Not Sanatio in Radice, But Silentium, . , 297 


Vol. V 


Case. — Confessor A has a penitent who rather frequently has 
to accuse himself of certain solitary and grave sins. This penitent 
has tried for many years to overcome the temptation but without 
success. The habit in question was formed in early boyhood days 
and has grown upon him to such a degree that it is now, he 
claims, beyond his control. The temptation comes upon him with 
such suddenness and fury that, at least to his mind, he seems 
compelled to yield, and he is of the opinion that he would do so 
even though he knew with certainty that at the moment of gratifi- 
cation his soul would be lost. 

Question. — Now, what is the confessor to do with such a case? 

Solution. — To decide whether this penitent is guilty of grave 
sin each time he falls, one must consider whether his habit of 
sin is voluntary or involuntary. 

(1). If the penitent desires to retain the evil habit it is clear 
that the resulting acts are of his own choice and that he sins gravely 
each time he yields to the temptation. 

(2). If he does not positively will to continue the habit, but 
yet has not efficaciously rejected it, his guiltiness will depend on 
whether the habit was begun voluntarily or involuntarily. 

(a). In the former hypothesis, the acts consequent on the habit 
are voluntary in their cause, since the penitent foresaw and willed 


them, at least in a confused way, at the time he consciously con- 
tracted the vicious habit. He cannot decline responsibility on the 
ground that his will-power has been weakened, any more than a 
person who deliberately throws himself into a deep pit can excuse 
himself for not continuing a journey, (b). In the latter hypoth- 
esis, the voluntariness of the acts are much diminished. The sinful 
habit was contracted in boyhood days before its sinfulness or gravity 
was understood and it grew so powerful that the will seemed utterly 
enslaved. One must beware, however, of taking a lax view. Only 
when the force of habit is so strong as to unbalance the reason 
and to extort consent before a clear judgment is possible, may it 
be said that the act is not free and not imputable. Such cases 
are comparatively rare. The confessor will have to judge from 
the circumstances the extent to which the sinful habit has weakened 
the free-will and diminished the guilt of the penitent. He should 
remember, too, that even though the habit was involuntary in its 
origin, it may have become voluntary subsequently, if the duty of 
using proper means to combat the vice was knowingly neglected. 

(3). If the penitent has formally retracted the habit and has 
employed means to conquer it, this circumstance greatly extenuates 
his guilt. But here again it is only when the habit produces a 
gravis perturb alio mentis that it takes away grave culpability. 

The confessor should be slow to conclude that such a condition 
of mind exists, even though the penitent should protest ever so 
much his powerlessness to resist. This is the very explanation that 
self-deceived consuetudinarii often allege in their own favor. How- 
ever, the confessor should use great gentleness along with prudence 
and firmness. The penitent should be so directed that on the one 
hand he will not feel that he is free from imputability, nor on the 
other hand that God is a tyrant and that there is no hope for 


himself. He should be absolved as often as he presents himself 
with dispositions which the priest judges to be genuine and sufficient. 
Moreover he should be persistently exhorted not to become the slave 
of discouragement but to keep up his efforts despite his frequent 
relapses, and to use all means, natural and supernatural, which tend 
to lessen the severity of his temptations, and to strengthen the 
force of will-power. Especially should he be urged to commend 
himself to the Mercy of God. 



Wilhelmina, a widow with one child to support, ekes out a scanty 
living by keeping a notion store and renting rooms to a few lodgers. 
Juliana is a very liberal customer and purchases many things at the 
store of the widow. She has a son, a good fellow, but a little wild, 
who is in love with Alberta. He has tried to pay his address to 
the young lady at her home, but her parents will not permit him to 
do so. They have also forbidden Alberta to call at the house of hei 
lover's parents. To avoid the difficulty, Joyce, the lover, hires a 
room in the house of Wilhelmina and there he receives the visits 
of his sweetheart. Wilhelmina is now scrupulous about the matter 
and wishes to know from her confessor whether she can continue 
to rent the room for this use. 

Answer. — The confessor must first find out what effects are con- 
sequent upon these secret visits of Alberta to the room of her de- 
voted Joyce. Are these visits the occasion of serious sin ? Do they 
give serious scandal ? The lovers may meet and yet have no temp- 
tation to sin; or they may sin. If the widow has moral certainty 
that her lodger uses the room for the purpose of sin, then she must 
refuse to let him have the room. If she does not so act, she is 
guilty of cooperation in his sin. If the secret meeting becomes 
known then scandal will inevitably follow, with the loss of reputa- 
tion to both parties. However, Wilhelmina is not certain that any 
sinful action takes place ; and no one knows of the meeting but her- 
self. Besides, if she dismisses Joyce, she will have difficulty in 
renting the room. This she knows from experience, and it is a 
serious matter with her, for she earns scarcely enough to pay for 


her own rent and support herself and child. Before compelling 
her to refuse the room to her lodger all these circumstances must 
be weighed. She fears likewise, and with good reason, that she 
will lose the trade of Juliana, which is a very considerable item in 
her battle for proper existence. If sin is committed, not even these 
circumstances will permit her to keep the room at the disposal of 
the young people. She must get rid of them. If they do not come 
together for evil purposes, but merely to see each other and spend 
a happy hour or two, and no scandal is the resultant, then we do 
not think that she is obliged to suffer the grave consequences 
alleged, but can continue to derive her revenue from the rental of 
the room. There is one thing certain : that is. Alberta is disobeying, 
if not the letter, at least the spirit, of the prohibition of her parents. 
Yet it is no part of the duty of the widow to force obedience from 
Alberta. In any case she cannot control Alberta on this point. So 
the widow is no determining factor in this disobedience. She is 
not to blame. In default of good reasons to the contrary we do not 
think it obligatory for Wilhelmina to dislodge the youthful schemer. 



Case. — ^John, a public hack driver, declares, in confessing his 
sins, that he is in the habit of driving people to brothels. This 
he does at times on their simple request. At other times, in 
response to their demand if he knows of such places, he replies 
affirmatively, and drives them there. John argues that since such 
resorts are allowed to exist, it is not unlawful to drive his patrons 
to them, nor wrong to inform them of their existence and location ; 
otherwise his business and income will suffer gravely, as others are 
prepared to do this work. 

1. What is formal, what is material cooperation? 

2. What constitutes a grave cause sufficient to make material 
cooperation lawful? 

3. What of the existence and the renting of houses to prosti- 
tutes ? 

4. Did John act rightly? 

5. What is the confessor's duty? 

Solution. — 1. Formal cooperation is that by which we aid an- 
other in his sin, and consent to the malice of the sin. Material 
cooperation is the aid we give to the action of another, not as it 
is sinful, but precisely as it is a physical action. It is either: 
(1) immediate, if one take part in the sinful deed; or (2) mediate, 
if one performs acts that lead up to or follow the sin. 

Formal cooperation is never lawful. It includes the consent of 
the will to the sin of another. It contains a two-fold malice : against 
charity and against the particular virtue violated. 


Material cooperation is lawful if the two following conditions 
are present: (1) The action of the one cooperating must be good, 
or at least indifferent; (2) there must exist for his action a just 
cause, proportioned to the gravity of the sin, and the proximity of 
the cooperation. 

2. What constitutes a grave cause in this matter depends on the 
estimation of prudent men. St. Alphonsus (Theol. Mor, Lib. II, 
No. 59) gives the following rules: The cause which permits mate- 
rial cooperation must be proportionately more serious and more 
weighty, (1) when the sin committed is graver; (2) when it is 
more probable that without your cooperation the other will not sin, 
or when the effect is more certain; (3) when your cooperation 
touches more proximately on the sin ; (4) when you have less right 
to place the cooperating action; (5) when the sin is against justice, 
detrimental to a third party. 

3. In large cities, in order to avoid greater evils, brothels are 
permitted by law, and according to a probable opinion it is morally 
lawful to rent houses for such purposes (Sabetti, No. 187). If, 
however, grave injury would thereby result to an otherwise re- 
spectable neighborhood, or if the location were such as to offer 
a greater opportunity for vice, such renting would not be per- 

4. To answer the fourth question, we must determine the nature 
of John's cooperation. It does not appear that he cooperated form- 
ally, since he did not intend the evil involved. His cooperation, 
then, was only material. Further, it was not immediate, as it pre- 
ceded the sins committed. Since, therefore, John's action of driving 
his "fares" was morally indifferent and since his livelihood depends 
on the good will of his patrons, it does not seem that he was guilty 
of serious sin. It is clear, though, that material cooperation is not 


permissible without a sufficient reason. The first reason assigned 
by John for his course of action viz. that such places are allowed 
to exist, was not sufficient. It should be remarked also that if 
John's passengers would be unable to resort to the houses they 
seek without his assistance and information, his cooperation would 
be much more proximate than it is and the reason for it would have 
to be correspondingly much graver. 

5. One of the reasons given for John's actions seems to be suffi- 
ciently grave to exempt him from mortal sin. The confessor should 
admonish him, however, of the danger that lies even in material 
cooperation and of the duty of avoiding it in future or of making 
it more remote, as far as thi^ may be possible. 



Case. — Adolf, a college student, mentions, in confession, that it 
appears to him that he has frequently sinned against faith. He 
says his faith is not strong, he is continually in a state of wavering, 
only his will to believe keeps him in the faith. The chief cause 
of his doubts is the attitude taken by so many men of science 
towards religion, some despising, others ignoring it. He often hears 
the remark that it is unworthy of a well-informed man to submit 
blindly to the truths of faith, such as the CathoHc Church requires. 
These things increase the bewilderment that has takqn possession 
of Adolf. 

Question. — How should this penitent be treated? 

Solution. — Adolf evidently is undergoing a period of stress. His 
faith which he learned at his mother's knee, and which he faithfully 
preserved in home surroundings, is now subjected to hard tests, in 
an atmosphere of unbelief. It is apparent that despite these temp- 
tations, he still appreciates the faith as his most precious gift; hence 
he feels impelled to seek help from the priest, who, besides being 
confessor, exercises also the sacred office of teacher, guide and 

In dealing with this penitent there is not merely a question of 
solving all the various particular doubts that bewilder his reasoning, 
and that render difficult the practice of his faith. First of all, he 
must be plainly and clearly instructed in his religion, to correct or 
perfect his understanding of the same, to liberate him from un- 
founded fears, as well as to eliminate real perils of his losing the 


He is worried especially by the thought that though the certainty 
of faith as the Church teaches is the greatest possible, this certainty 
is lacking in him. What should he be told on this point ? Without 
doubt the certainty of faith is supreme, because the motive of faith, 
namely the authority of God revealing the truth, is the foundation 
of the faith, and that means absolute certainty ; and since the 
principle of faith is the supernatural light of grace, one who hon- 
estly seeks the truth will arrive, through the enlightenment of 
Divine grace, at the positive belief that God has made revelations 
to man, that Jesus has manifested Himself as the Son of God, and 
as the Saviour of the world, that He brought us the full truth, 
and is proclaiming the same through the teaching office of the 
Church; and, accepting the authority of God and of His Church, 
he will, with the help of Divine grace give to the revealed truths 
a consent that is above every doubt and voluntary wavering. Never- 
theless, an involuntary doubt may arise at times in believing Chris- 
tians, a suggestion of insecurity may insinuate itself. Faith is, 
after all, a virtue, and the act of faith a voluntary subjection to 
the truths of the faith, dictated by the will, since reason is not 
impelled by a direct evidence of the motives of faith to an act of 
faith. For this reason faith, like any other virtue, is subject to 
temptations. Insinuations by the spirit of untruth, and, especially, 
the various objections made by men of science against the faith, 
as also the widespread religious indifference, are apt to bewilder 
an inexperienced youth whose judgment has not yet matured. 

This is the condition in which Adolf finds himself. He is worried 
and in his bewilderment imagines that his faith is already ship- 
wrecked. Yet this does not seem to be the case. He wants to 
believe, as he affirms, and in his temptation he clings to the founda- 
tion of faith, the authority of God and of the Church ; thus, despite 


all the doubts that oppress him, he is still on firm ground, and 
may console himself with the knowledge that he is still in posses- 
sion of the faith, and will so remain as long as he keeps his good 
will and makes zealous use of the necessary means for its preserva- 
tion. Only when the will surrenders consciously to doubts, and 
entertains them voluntarily, does the virtue of faith vanish. Never- 
theless, the state in which Adolf finds himself is not without its 
perils. For this reason it will be the confessor's task to protect 
him, by practical advice, against these dangers. 

First of all, it cannot be sufficiently emphasized that faith is a 
virtue for which we must pray unceasingly. Many unbelievers, by 
painstaking inquiry, have approved the truth of the Catholic Chiirch, 
without however being able to resolve upon accepting this truth. 
Only after they begin to offer up humble and fervent prayers do 
these difficulties disappear, and do they receive the strength to take 
the decisive step. On the other hand, the learned theologian may 
without continuous prayer for steadfastness in the faith drift far 
from the truth and be plunged in pernicious error. To prayer 
must be joined a chaste life. A life according to faith makes the 
possession of that faith sure. Indeed, the greater number of those 
who lose the precious gift of faith, became estranged from God 
through pride or immorality. "Many have done violence to their 
good conscience and suffered the shipwreck of their faith" says 
St. Paul, speaking of Christians in those days. Pride cannot dwell 
in harmony with the faith. 

It is the language of pride that Adolf hears, when they tell him 
that it is unworthy of the cultured to believe something that one 
does not comprehend. This appeal to the self-respect of a talented, 
self-conscious youth, brought forward in the name of science, seldom 
fails of its harmful influence upon his faith. Yet it is not difficult 


to prove to him the fallacy of this assertion. True, faith requires 
the submission of reason to truths which far exceed our conception. 
Faith in this sense is a sacrifice, nevertheless the Church does not 
really require the sacrifice of reason, but rather that of arrogance. 
To refuse acceptance of God's decrees, or to doubt them, must be 
-regarded as an impertinent presumption. If an apprentice, while 
being initiated into the mysteries of an art by a clever master, would 
listen to the explanations with an incredulous shake of the head, 
and claim to know better, what would we think of such behavior? 
Now all of us, even the greatest scholars, are God's apprentices: 
the Lord God in His mercy has taken us into His school, in order 
to teach us those supernatural truths of life, that concern our 
temporal and eternal welfare. What, therefore, is more beseeming 
than that man should give ready submission to God and to His 
Church ? 

In order, then that Adolf may escape perils to the faith, he 
must be impressed with the great need of prayer and of regularly 
receiving the Sacraments as a means to preserve purity of life, and 
he must avoid bad company. It is a great error for Adolf to sup- 
pose that in matters of faith reason must submit blindly. The 
Catholic religion, whose foundation is the faith, is not merely a 
matter of sentiment, it is not a religion of emotions. Reason and 
free will m.ust, the same as in the practice of other virtues, be 
used in the exercise of faith, indeed, more particularly than the 
other faculties. Adolf must admit that an impartial and serious 
scrutiny of the motives of faith is calculated to satisfy the longing 
for certainty on part of the reason, and that only superficiality, 
prejudice and wilful resistance against truths that are inconvenient 
for a corrupt mind, can deny the strength of these arguments. The 
existence of the Catholic Church, her history for near two thousand 


years, the work of Divine Providence which in her is so abundantly 
evident, her victory over so many storms of persecution, the pres- 
ervation of the purity of her teaching despite many assaults of the 
spirit of untruth, the glorious fruits of her sanctity in numberless 
servants of God, the wonderful works of charity ever present in 
the Catholic Church, all these must clearly demonstrate that this 
Church is the Divine Institution wherein we find truth and salvation. 
The study of Church history, also perusal of the lives of her saints 
and of her celebrated men, may be recommended to the doubter 
as an effective means for strengthening the faith. The numerous 
models of heroic virtues, of whom we possess so many in the 
Catholic Church, grant us an insight into the blessed workings of 
the Church, they fortify our faith and make us rejoice at being 
a child of this Church. Students are expected to accept the state- 
ments of eminent teachers as infallible truth ; hence the words 
jurare in verba magistri. Yet even the most learned are not infal- 
lible, least of all in matters of religion. The overestimation of 
scientists and of their authority, to which Adolf is addicted, should 
be toned down by pointing out their incompetence in religious ques- 
tions. The scientist may be an authority in his special science, but 
that does not qualify him to speak with authority on questions of 
religion, especially, as so often happens, if the fundamental truths 
of the Catholic religion are not even fully known to him. In mat- 
ters of religion Adolf must seek elucidation where alone it can 
safely be found, in the Teaching Church, whose infallible decisions 
he may follow all through life as his never- failing lode-star. Fi- 
nally he should be urged to associate with Catholic students, join 
Catholic organizations, thus to fortify his Catholic consciousness, 
and induce an interest in matters pertaining to his faith. 



Case. — Early one Sunday morning in summer time the pastor 
of a church ?t a sea resort was memorizing a sermon for the parish 
Mass when a Protestant minister called and asked for the loan of 
a Bible, saying he had only arrived the evening before, had mislaid 
his copy and did not know where else he might procure one for 
his morning service. After some hesitation our pastor gave this 
minister a Bible, but hardly had the latter disappeared when tha 
pastor became uneasy. Communicatio in sacris cum acathoUcis, 
cooperatio ad peccatum, and other chapters of Church law and 
moral theology darted through his head. Gradually he became 
easier in his conscience, as there could be no question of a sin, 
because he had acted bona fide, Holy Writ was the source of faith 
for Protestant and Catholic alike, etc. 

Question. — Quid ad casum? 

Solution. — Our pastor's uneasiness, even apart from the fact that 
he had acted completely cum bona fide, was utterly uncalled for. 
But have we not here a striking example of communicatio in sacris 
cum acathoUcis activaf We answer: Granted! But such active com- 
municatio is not always a sin ! It is only forbidden where it means 
an appreciation or recognition of a non-Catholic worship (cf, Aich- 
ner-Friedl, Compendium juris ecclesiastici 9, p. 156) or where 
scandal or even apostasy might be feared. 

Nothing of all this is present in our case. The fact that a 
Catholic priest lends a Bible to a Protestant for the purpose of 
holding Divine worship, is no appreciation or recognition of that 
worship. Nor was there any scandal or apostasy, or a subversio in 
fide et moribus. 



Case. — Margaret, a rich maiden aunt, had a special predilection 
for Robert, one of five nephews. She was accustomed to show this 
feeling in various ways, particularly by many extraordinary gifts 
showered upon her favorite. Recently Robert incurred the dis- 
pleasure of his aunt by contracting marriage against her expressed 
wish. Since then she has not given any gifts, she has refused him 
admittance to her house, and has told his brothers that she would 
leave him no inheritance in her will. She has persevered in this 
conduct despite the efforts of her confessor. He intends to refuse 
her absolution in future. 

Question. — Is he justified? 

Answer. — All Christians are well aware of the law of charity as 
imposed by Christ and know its binding force. It obliges us to 
succor our neighbor in his necessities when we can do so — it like- 
wise obliges us to help our enemies under the same conditions. 
Moreover, we are bound to show even our enemies the common 
signs of charity, though these may vary, and do vary with time, 
country, custom, etc. To neglect these common signs of charity 
would be a violation of the law which compels us to love our 
enemies. This would be a mortal or a venial sin, according to 
circumstances, i. e., if the matter is not serious or if some grave 
cause tempers the action, the sin committed would not be a grievous 
one. We must, therefore, examine the motive of Margaret's aver- 
sion. If she objected to the marriage because it brought disgrace 
upon her family, by reason of the condition or of the lax morality 
of Robert's bride, she cannot be said to have violated the law of 


chanty. The grief that would be caused by her nephew's miserable 
action would fully justify her in refusing even the common ordinary 
signs of affection, at least for the time being. Even if such treat- 
ment were to persist for a very long time, we do not think that 
under such provocation an affectionate aunt could be held to be 
guilty of sin. But if the motive in the case is hatred based on 
disobedience, then, of course, Margaret cannot justify her conduct, 
there would then be a clear violation of God's great law of charity. 
We must add to this that her attitude would be scandalous. No 
obedience was due in the matter, and in the supposition no injury 
was done either to herself or her family, consequently no reason 
exists for the hatred which in the given instance is exceedingly 
sinful. She does no wrong in ceasing to bestow her gifts; these 
were gratuitous and depended on the good will of the giver; but 
she must show her nephew the common signs of charity. Unless 
she rids herself of her hatred she proves herself unworthy of 
absolution. However, she may have been moved by disappointment 
or by sentimental sensitiveness, rather than by hatred, she may 
have wished him to marry a bride of her own selection, or to have 
remained with her during her old age. Here she is free to deprive 
him of the customary extraordinary signs of affection. But she 
must give him what he is entitled to, viz., the ordinary signs, the 
same as she gives to his brothers, or his cousins, etc. Her attitude 
is unreasonable and reflects her own selfishness, giving evidence 
of wounded pride. Time will effect a cure, and therefore the con- 
fessor need not worry. Excluding real theological odium and 
scandal, he may in this last instance continue to give absolution. 

ENVY 17 


Case. — Aegidius, a poor man, is much inclined to sadness at the 
thought that the rich are favored above his class not only tempo- 
rally, but even spiritually, since they are better able to give alms 
and may thus acquire greater merits in this life and have more 
suffrages offered for them after death. 

1. Are Aegidius' dispositions sinful? 

2. What should be thought of his opinions? 

1. Envy is a sorrow over the good fortune of our neighbor inas- 
much as we consider that it surpasses our own good. Such feeling 
is of course out of harmony with the law of charity, which bids 
us to love our neighbor as ourselves and to rejoice at his prosperity. 
Therefore envy is sinful and, if fully deliberate, a mortal sin. 
Envy of the spiritual good of another is a most grievous crime, 
and is numbered as one of the sins against the Holy Ghost. 

Quite different from envy is emulation or zeal, which causes us to 
grieve at our neighbor's good, not because he possesses it, but because 
we ourselves are wanting in that good. Such sadness, if its object 
be moral goodness or righteousness, is virtuous and praiseworthy : 
"Let us consider one another to provoke unto charity and good 
works" (Heb., x, 24; cfr. 1 Cor., xiv, 1). But if it be concerned 
with temporal things only, emulation is or is not sinful according 
to circumstances. 

Temporal possessions may assist a person to love God, It is 
not wrong, then, to desire such advantages, provided avarice, covet- 


ousness and impatience be excluded. As Aegidius is a spiritually 
minded man, it is not likely that he begrudges his neighbor the 
favors with which God has blessed him; he merely wishes that 
he enjoyed certain opportunities for good that others have. Such a 
wish springs not from envy, but from zeal. If, however, seme 
slight movements of envy are mingled with his anxiety about his 
soul's welfare, his inadvertence and ignorance will excuse him from 
serious fault. 

2. For it is not true that riches are usually an advantage in 
the supernatural order. An abundance of this world's goods does 
not generally lead its possessor towards God, but it does make him 
more responsible before God. The rich are deserving of compassion 
rather than envy, if we view matters in the light of faith. Hence 
it is not the rich, but the poor whom our Lord calls blessed. While 
Aegidius is not able to give liberal alms, there is much that he can 
do for his neighbor. The widow's mite was worth more in our 
Lord's eyes than the great gifts of the Pharisees. Merit and reward 
are proportioned to internal charity rather than to the actual relief 
that is effected. 

As to the greater number of Masses that the rich can have 
offered for the repose of their souls and their speedier liberation 
from Purgatory, Aegidius should remember: (1) God is the 
Supreme Master of His creatures, and if it pleases Him to grant 
to one an easier way to salvation than to another, the latter has 
no right to complain ; for the graces of God are free gifts of His 
bounty, they are given sufficiently to all, and each one will be judged 
according to his opportunities and merits, (2) If the rich are en- 
abled to obtain greater suffrages after death, the poor by patiently 
bearing their difficulties during life have made a satisfaction that 
acquits the temporal punishment due to sin more quickly than do 

ENVY 19 

the sufferings of Purgatory. (3) The sacrifice of the Mass is 
profitably offered for the dead and its fruits are appHed to him 
for whom it was offered, if there be no obstacle. But the remission 
of the temporal punishment of sin depends upon the Divine mercy 
and liberaHty. Hence it may happen that a great portion of the 
fruit of Masses and other suffrages that are offered for the soul 
of one person may be apphed to another whose Hfe on earth made 
him more deserving of mercy. (4) The poor man has more security 
of salvation and the opportunity for greater merit and a higher 
reward. These infinitely surpass the advantages of his wealthy 
neighbor, even though the latter should be liberated sooner from 



Case. — A buys a horse from B for $300. He pays the money at 
once, but makes no agreement as to delivery of the horse. He 
allows the horse to remain in the stables of B, During the follow- 
ing night the horse died. 

Question. 1. Who bears the loss? 2. Was ownership trans- 
ferred when the buyer paid the money; or was actual delivery 
required in order to transfer ownership in the case? 

Solution. — All the elements required for a genuine contract are 
here present and hence the contract entered into by A and B is 
valid. When A paid over to B the sum agreed upon he acquitted 
himself of his part of the contract. But the question arises did 
B meet his obligations? If he relinquished his claim to the horse, 
so that A was free to remove the animal to his own stables, then it 
can be said that B did all that was required of him in strict justice. 
If B placed no objection to the removal of the horse by A, then 
he must have acknowledged the ownership of A over the horse. 
The fact that the horse was de facto not removed does not alter 
the case, as it did not deprive A of his right to the horse acquired 
by the payment of the $300. Had he so desired he could have 
removed his property at any time, and in not doing so he assumed 
all responsibility in connection with his bargain. If there had been 
any agreement on the point of delivery the question at issue would 
have to be decided according to that agreement. But from the 
statement of the case as given above, there was no such agreement. 
Hence it can be said that A assumed ownership when he paid down 
his money; that B did not contest this ownership, as he placed no 


impediment to the exercise of proprietorship on the part of A, and 
hence in every respect the horse was as much under the dominion 
of A as if he had placed him in his own stable. B kept the animal 
in his stable as a matter of convenience for A, and in so doing he 
cannot be held to have assumed any responsibility for the well- 
being of A's property. If A had not paid the money, then as long 
as the object of the bargain was under the control of B, all re- 
sponsibility was his : but as soon as A deposited the purchase money 
then he became possessed of the horse in question. Among retail 
horse dealers it is an admitted principle that transportation is at 
the risk of the new owner unless otherwise specified in the contract 
or a custom to the contrary exists. This exception is made by a 
few only of the very largest dealers. As, therefore, the horse was 
in the stable of B as a convenience for A, the burden of loss must 
rest upon A. If B sold this horse to A in bad faith; if the horse 
was diseased when sold and died in consequence of that disease, 
then B is bound to restitution. If the horse died as a result of 
maltreatment or of culpable negligence on the part of B, then 
surely A is entitled to a return of his $300. In private sales, how- 
ever, custom (which here has the force of an agreement) deter- 
mines that ownership begins only with the delivery of the horse, 
but in this case the horse is not paid for till he has been delivered. 
The decision in the case is that A was the owner and must stand 
the loss. 



Case. — Father John has a penitent, David, the son of a widowed 
mother and a man in ordinary circumstances of Hfe, who has 
developed consumption. David is in very poor health at present, and 
has been told by many reputable physicians, who have carefully 
examined him, that he cannot live more than one year unless he 
remove himself from this climate and betake himself to the Rocky 
Mountains, where, if his health improves, he would have to stay 
for four or five years. There is no certainty, however, that even 
there he will recover his shattered health. Now David is not 
inclined to follow the advice of the doctors. He feels that it would 
be imposing too great a hardship on himself and upon his mother. 
He dreads the life he will be compelled to lead in the mountains, 
and declares that he prefers to remain, and die, if must be, at home, 
where he can receive some consolation from his parent, and where 
he can be of help to her. 

Question. — Is there any obligation on his part to go to the moun- 
tains? Does he commit sin by not going? 

Solution. — The solution of this case must depend upon circum- 
stances. Of course, it goes without saying that we are obliged to 
preserve the life that God has given us. We are not free to do any- 
thing that will shorten our lives directly. But this is only a general 
principle which arises from the binding force of the Fifth Com- 
mandment. In practice it may be modified by many conditions. 
When we claim that we are obliged in conscience to use the means 
necessary to the preservation of life, we must be held to be referring 
only to the ordinary means the use of which are required for the 
maintenance of God-given life. To exemplify this, we assert that 


a man is bound in conscience to take food, to take medicines, to take 
fresh air, exercise, etc., because these are the ordinary means which 
enable him to conserve his life. It follows that a man who would 
when sick refuse all medical aid, and who from prejudice or 
obstinacy would allow himself to pass out of this world rather than 
consult or follow the advice of clinical experts, would be guilty of 
sin. But we are not obliged by any law of God to use extraordinary 
means. Such means would be those that entail very great expense, 
very great pain, or very great hardship. Should one's life be neces- 
sary for the good of society or of the community, then extraordi- 
nary means become ordinary, and such a one is bound to use all 
means at his disposal to preserve his life. Do not forget then that 
what is extraordinary for one man is ordinary for another, and 
that what is ordinary under one set of circumstances may be extra- 
ordinary under another. It is our view that the conditions under 
which David labors, and which beget in him a repugnance to a 
change of climate and a long residence in the mountains, with con- 
sequent separation from home and his mother, may rightly be 
looked upon as out of the ordinary. Therefore we hold that he is 
not obliged to submit himself to them, and consequently he does 
not sin by refusing to accept the dictum of his physician. He may 
be counselled to go, but he cannot be compelled to do so under pain 
of sin. The hardship, the expense, the mental pain, the loneliness 
and the fact that after all he may not ultimately recover, all these 
conspire to make the remedy an extraordinary one. 



Case. — Rufus, in love with Leonore, and finding his affection 
reciprocated, proposes marriage to the young lady. She freely 
admits that she would accept his offer were it not for one seem- 
ingly insuperable difficulty. Rufus is deformed by the presence of 
a tumor which she considers not only unsightly but even dangerous. 
The distressed lover pleads his cause and finally wins consent under 
condition of the removal of the deformity. Rufus then hastens to 
a surgeon, who assures him that the offending excrescence can be 
removed by the knife, but not without fear of danger to life. He 
consents to the operation. In preparation for the ordeal he ap- 
proaches the Sacrament of Penance and there his confessor for- 
bids the operation on the ground that it would be a violation of 
God's Law prohibiting the endangering of one's life. He persists 
and is sent away without absolution. 

Question. — Did the confessor have the right view of the case? 

SohitiGu. — While it is never lawful to do anything that is equiva- 
lently suicide, it is lawful to do that which is indifferent in se though 
it involves the possibility of death, provided (a) we seek some im- 
mediate good effect, (b) our intention is not to cause death, and (c) 
there exists a sufficient reason to allow the evil that may possibly 
follow from the doing of such an action. Where no grave cause 
sanctions the doing of the action in question, the act is highly unlaw- 
ful, it is grievously sinful. Now a legitimate cause includes an 
action involving the production of good not only for the community, 
but may even extend to the good of the individual. Where then a 
substantially weighty benefit accrues to the members of society from 
the jeopardizing of human life, the seeking of that good is entirely 


licit. Where, too, the aforesaid benefit comes to a single member 
of the community, that good may be sought even at the risk of 
life to the individual in question. This holds with the proviso that 
the risk involved be not too great, and hence that there be some 
reasonable proportion between the good to be accomplished and 
the risk to be assumed. Where on the other hand there is no ade- 
quate reason for the risk, no sufficient good to the individual or 
to the community, then no one would be allowed to place himself 
in the proximate danger of death, or in the probable danger of such 
an evil. 

Applying the principles just stated to the proposed case, we must 
determine whether there exists sufficient reason for the induction 
of the peril that is feared on the part of the deformed Rufus. In 
the determination of this question we must find out how great 
the risk is that he is willing to run. Is it great or negligible ? Is it 
merely a possible danger, or is it gravely probable? Rufus is 
not concerned about the improvement to his personal appearance 
except in as far as it will help him to obtain Leonore as his wife. 
This he considers a great good for his life and no doubt we can 
admit the force of his reasoning in the matter, provided the risk 
he runs is not out of proportion to that universally accepted good. 
The surgeon whom he consulted has informed him that there is 
some danger. However we must bear in mind that modern methods 
of surgery, combined with the great skill of modern surgeons, have 
certainly and materially reduced the danger at one time attendant 
upon surgical operations. So that it is safe to conclude that op- 
erations formerly full of danger are now permissible, because of 
the lack of that danger. The death-rate to-day following opera- 
tions is hardly more than two per cent. This is so small that it can 
safely be neglected. This would be our view of the case before 


US. The danger to the patient would bear no undue proportion to the 
good that he hopes for from marriage with Leonore. Hence we 
would admit that he has sufficient reason to permit of his under- 
going the operation to remove the impediment to his desired mar- 
riage. It would be a serious hardship to the community to pro- 
hibit such operations, particularly in cases where, as in the present, 
the good to be effected far outweighs the concomitant danger, 
especially in cases where the danger is more possible than prob- 
able, more imaginary than real. The confessor did not give a proper 
decision in the case. He should have absolved and encouraged, not 
discouraged his already distressed penitent. 



Case. — A noted criminal in the West was convicted of murder in 
the first degree and has been sentenced to death. In sentencing 
him the Court gave the doomed man the alternative of dying by 
his own hand on a fixed day, the method to be selected by the 
criminal himself. 

Question. — Is this not suicide? If so, is it not forbidden by the 
law of the country and the law of God ? 

Solution. — It is never lawful directly and intentionally to take 
one's own life. To do so would be a grave violation of the law 
of charity which obliges one to love his body and soul in the proper 
way and to the proper degree. It would likewise be a serious 
infraction of the virtue of justice, for by self-destruction we are 
depriving God of what is His, and the State of what belongs to it, 
viz., the lives of its citizens. Beyond doubt the State acts properly 
in putting to death criminals who have been duly condemned accord- 
ing to the just laws of the land. But does this involve a right on 
the part of a judge to order a criminal so condemned to put himself 
to death? We know that this has been a long-standing practice 
among Eastern nations. Such a practice cannot be justified in 
conscience. Hence we find theologians very decided in declaring 
that a criminal ordered by the State to put an end to his own life 
is not bound to obey such a command. They consider that obedi- 
ence in the given case would constitute grave disobedience to the 
divine law as expressed in the precept "thou shalt not kill." More- 
over, in such an action the dictates of the natural law would be 
set at naught, for nature abhors self-destruction as something in- 



human and cruel, even when brought about at the command of 
lawful civil authority; such authority does not extend to the act 
of self-destruction. 

As to the main question involved in the case, viz., whether a justly 
condemned criminal can with a safe conscience take advantage of 
the opportunity offered by the State and choose death at his own 
hands in a manner less painful, less dishonorable, and therefore 
less revolting to human nature, theologians are not agreed. The 
common opinion seems to be that a criminal is not at liberty to 
effect his own death, moved by reasons given above, for he is 
directly effecting something that is intrinsically evil and that at 
the same time is abhorrent to nature, a something, therefore, never 
to be countenanced. If, they say, a man is never justified in 
executing capital punishment upon his father or his children, by 
reason of the demands of the law of charity, so likewise is he 
forbidden by the same law and with greater stringency to execute 
himself at the behest or sufferance of the State. (Lessius, St. 
Thomas, Bus. Suar. Soto et alii apud St. Alphonsum de precepto 
V, No. 369.) 

Other theologians assert that one justly condemned can with 
the permission of the State execute himself without breaking the 
law of God or doing violence to the love due himself. (Genicot, 
Vazquez, Bon, Elbel et alii.) "If," it is argued, "a criminal can 
open his mouth and swallow the poison given him by his execu- 
tioner, why cannot he take it from his own hands? What differ- 
ence does it make whether he or someone else pours out the poison, 
as long as no further delay is vouchsafed? Just this difference, 
that there is less horror in taking the fatal draught from his own 
hands." (Franc, Victoria.) Again, if the judge can justly commit 
the execution of the sentence to a stranger, he can certainly com- 


mit it to the criminal himself. In executing himself he is not 
taking the life of an innocent man, nor acting by his own author- 
ity (Vide Less, lib 2, 19, nn. 25, 26), nor without sanction of 
the law. Hence he is not disposing unjustly of what belongs to 
God and to the State, and is exercising the virtue of charity 
towards himself by choosing an easier death in preference to a 
more cruel one ; at least one less revolting to his own sensibilities. 
It is evident, then, that the man whose life is forfeit to the State 
can follow either of the opinions given above with a safe conscience. 



Case. — Antonius notices that his meadow is after every heavy 
rain storm covered with sand and silt. In order to avoid this, there 
is no other means but to erect, on his own ground, a protecting dam. 

Question. — May he do this, and does he not thereby sin against 
justice, or at least against charity, if by doing this the injury will 
be diverted to his neighbor Campanus? 

Solution. — 1. In answering this question we must point out, be- 
fore all, that cases of this kind are usually taken into a court of law. 
Should Campanus therefore have recourse to the law, then of course 
Antonius will have to submit to the court's decision. But if we 
leave the court's verdict out of consideration, and consider the 
matter as a case of conscience, we find it duly dealt with by the 
Casuists. The Casus Conscientiae of Gury treat our case as fol- 

An teneatur ad restitutionem, qui alteri nocet ponendo causam 
indifferentem vel iustamf Respondeo: Negative, si causa posita 
iusta sit ex parte agentis, quia utitur iure suo nee agit animo 
nocendi alteri, nee proinde ius illius ullum laedit, licet forte eius 
damnum praeviderit, . . . Sic peccas contra iiistitiam avertendo 
aquam non tibi nocivam, si alteri nocere deheat. According to this, 
Antonius would not sin against justice, il on his own grounds he 
erected a protecting dam, though he foresaw that this would cause 
injury to his neighbor unless the latter made use of the same means 
of protection; but he would sin against charity, as Gury further 
remarks, if he intended to harm his neighbor, took pleasure in it, 
or neglected to warn Campanus of the injury threatening him when 


he might hope thus to avert the injury. "Non peccat contra iusti- 
tiam, qui avertit torrentem sibi nocivum, etiamsi intendat alteri 
nocere vel de dammo praeviso gaudeat — quia intentio prava tiequit 
facere iniustum, quod de se iustum est." 

2. In this connection we would remark: The prospective bad 
effect of an act is not to be regarded as voluntary in causa, and, 
therefore, cannot be accounted as a sin against justice or charity, 
or even as a sin at all, if there is no obligation to omit the action 
from which one foresees a bad effect. 

3. The action which one undertakes must according to its object 
be a good or an indifferent one. The prospective bad effect must 
not be willed or intended; it must be joined to the good action 
praeter intentionem, not be the result of a bad additional act. Fi- 
nally, one must have a sufficiently important reason for performing 
the proposed act to which prospectively praeter intentionem a bad 
effect is joined. As an illustration we remind of the case of a 
physician, or a priest, who visits a patient ill with an infectious 
disease, although he foresees that this visit may have a bad effect 
upon his health, or the case of a judge or lawyer who at times 
must deal with matters which will produce violent temptations. 

4. Let us apply this to our case and we find that there will be 
no sin against either justice or charity, in the erecting of a dam 
by Antonius upon his own grounds. He has every right to do so. 
His intention in so doing is a good one; he wants to protect him- 
self from damage. Of course he perceives that this dam, besides 
being a good thing for him, will be a bad one for his neighbor; 
however, the good effect which the protecting dam has for him 
does not originate in the bad effect it will have for his neighbor. 
Both effects arise from the same act, which according to object and 
intention is a good one, and the bad effect is not intentional on 


Antonius' part, it happens praeter intentionem. In all these premises 
there is to be found nothing sinful, the only question is whether 
Antonius is not obliged to omit the erection of a dam in order to 
avoid injury to Campanus. The reason why Antonius wants to 
erect a dam is a very important one, so that in this regard he is not 
in duty bound to arrest proceedings that Campanus may not be 
harmed; for there is no obligation, unless one is ex officio comis- 
sioned with preventing injury of the neighbor, to prevent to one's 
own injury a prospective injury in equal goods to the neighbor. 
The damage in this way resulting is to be considered as effectus non 
intentus et per accidens secutus. 



Case. — Paul, a student, makes it a practice to escape the paying 
of car-fares whenever he can, and even uses various tricks to evade 
the attention of conductors. 

He claims that he may do this with a good conscience. First, 
he says, it is not the passenger's business to look out for the pecu- 
niary advantage of the company; this is the conductor's aifair, who 
is hired and paid to collect fares, and it is the conductor's business 
to see that every passenger pays. A/Loreover, Paul is of the opinion 
that the company suffers no real injury from occasionally carrying 
a "deadhead" passenger, because no additional expense is incurred 
by the company; hence he is not cheating the company. 

1. Is Paul's action lawful? 

2. Is he obliged to make restitution and how may this be best 
accomplished ? 


1. Paul is wrong in this practice. The reasons he adduces in 
support of it are false and without validity. It is of course the 
conductor's duty to look out for the company's interests, and for 
this purpose to keep count of the passengers as far as it is possible 
in respect to their large number and frequent change. But this duty 
of the employee does not in the least excuse the passenger from his 
obligation. It is an essential principle of commutative justice that in 
the case of a tacit agreement, which manifestly exists here, a certain 
performance of the one party (carrying the passenger to a certain 
distance by the trolley-car) conditions a reciprocal performance on 
the other party (payment of fare). Since Paul benefits himself by 


using the opportunity of travel, the company has eo ipso a claim 
upon his fare. Paul's assertion, that the company is entitled to the 
fare only if the conductor makes positive demand for it, and that 
otherwise he is permitted to ride free, is absolutely unfounded. On 
the contrary, the fact that the companies despite heavy traffic place 
only one conductor in a car indicates that for getting their fares 
they trust to an extent in the honor of the public. Moreover, the 
matter of common decency should be sufficient inducement to pay 
one's way, and to avoid the appearance of trying to cheat the con- 

The second excuse advanced by Paul is no more valid than the 
first. Paul claims that he has not injured the company, because 
on his account there was no additional expenditure for coal or 
electricity. But was not the company deprived of rightful income? 
What would be the result if other passengers would act on the same 
principle as Paul? 

2. From the above it is plain that Paul is obliged to make resti- 
tution, and this not merely if he was aware of the injustice of his 
actions, but even if he was under the impression that his action 
was permissible and not sinful. It can not be objected that ac- 
cording to the teaching of moralists one is liable to restitution only 
when he has been guilty before God (theologice culpabilis). Here 
it is not a question of injury that only harms the neighbor and 
does not benefit the perpetrator (cf. Noldin, n. 419) : Paul has 
by his acts so to speak "become richer" (ditior f actus est; cf. Noldin, 
n. 449, /. c.) or, more exactly, he is still in possession of the fares to 
which the railroad company has every legal right. Therefore he 
must be dealt with as a man in bona fide possession of the property 
of others. There is not the slightest reason, unless actually out- 
lawed on account of time, why the original obligation of paying 


the fare has ceased to exist; it exists at present and presses for 

But how may Paul carry out this obligation without attracting 
attention to his unlawful action? The easiest way would be to 
purchase a corresponding number of tickets and to destroy them 
(burning them, for instance). In this way complete restitution would 
certainly be made. 



Case. — Sempronius brings home stolen goods, also money realized 
from the sale of stolen goods. At first his wife objected strongly 
to this, but the husband would not desist from stealing, and ordered 
his wife to use the fruits of his thefts for the support of the family, 
which she did. Now the man has died, without leaving anything of 

1. May wife and children accept their support from a husband 
and father who is a thief ? 

2. Are wife and children obliged to make restitution if later they 
acquire property? 

Solution. — The case before us is one of cooperation in the sin 
of another, in an injustice, of which he was the perpetrator. Co- 
operation is either formal or material, according as one shares 
the sinful intention of the perpetrator and therefore assists in his 
sin, or does not share the sinful intention, but for some reason 
participates in the act. Further, we distinguish direct and indirect 
cooperation; the former exists when one actually shares in the 
performance of sin, the latter when one only prepares the way or 
offers the means for the sinful need. The formal cooperation in 
sin is never allowed, the material cooperation may, for a relatively 
important reason {causa proportionate gravis), be allowed, and then 
exonerates from sin as well as from the obligation of restitution. A 
direct cooperation in sin as a rule cannot be excused; an indirect 
and remote cooperation may for weighty reasons be excused. The 
reason for this is that direct participation in the sinful act is gen- 
erally not possible unless one has agreed to the sin itself ; moreover, 


direct participation, as a rule, is not an indifferent action since one 
commits the deed with the intention that it be done ; for instance, 
if one helps to kill or maim another then he assists because he has 
decided to do so for some motive, be it hatred, revenge, or self- 
preservation, and for his ow^n reasons he intends that the victim 
be killed or maimed. Hence in regard to direct participation in 
causing injury, authors distinguish the different kinds of goods and 
say: 1. quoad damnum vifae, i. e., the unjust killing of a fellow- 
being; direct cooperation in such an act is never allowed, not even 
in danger of one's own life: 2. quoad damnum memhrorum, the 
maiming of important limbs, is likewise not allowed, not even in 
fear of death, unless cooperation in such mutilation would save 
the victim's life ; for in this case he would by the lesser evil be 
spared the greater one; 3. quoad damnum, fortunae, an injury to 
property, may be excused under three conditions where grave fear 
is present, namely: (a) if the cooperator himself can and will make 
good the loss; (b) if a serious injury would be done even without 
the cooperation, and would be accomplished by the chief perpetrator, 
for then the position of the injured person would be made no worse 
by the cooperation; (c) when the injury is only trivial, one may 
cooperate in an injury ex gravissimo metu, in fear of death, even 
if one neither can nor will make restitution. If, however, one's 
cooperation is an active cause of the injury, and one cooperates 
only in order to protect oneself from loss of property, then one 
is not allowed to cooperate without assuming the duty of restitu- 
tion (S. Alph. L. IV, 571.) or, as St. Alphonsus formulates the 
principle : it is not permitted to cooperate directly in injuring our 
neighbor in order to avert our own loss of property of the same 
order if we have not the intention of making restitution; but it is 
allowable in order to avert an injury of a higher order, for instance 


death, mutilation, grave dishonor. A more remote cooperation 
may be permitted, for weighty reasons, in order to avert an equally 
grievous injury to oneself (Konings; Theol. Mor. n. 772; Aertnys, 
Theol. M. n. 330). 

St. Alphonsus states (/. c.) the reason why even a direct co- 
operation in injury to property may be allowed in the stated cases: 
To appropriate or damage property of others is a sin of injustice 
invito domino; here however the dominus is not rationahiliter in- 

Now to consider our case, we have to distinguish (1) The stolen 
articles and the money they brought; (2) the mother and the chil- 
dren; (3) participation in the theft {participatio in actione injusta) 
and participation in the stolen goods (participatio in praeda) and 
there will follow these answers to our questions : 

1. It is permissible to take for the support of life money obtained 
from the sale of stolen property, for the wife absolutely so, and 
for the children if they cannot support themselves in any other way. 
For this money belongs to the thief, who for the support of his 
wife and children is under the same obligation as for restitution 
(S. Alphonsus, L. 4, n. 695; H. A. tr. 10, n. 115). The same may 
be done by the children if they have means of their own, but 
by their labor for the family earn as much as they receive from 
the thief, for if they accept only as much as they earn they do not 
involve the thief in greater difficulty to make restitution (Konings, 
707, 5W. 3). 

It is not permitted to the wife and children to use stolen property, 
unless they are in most extreme need (necessitas extrema or quasi 
extrema) ; for the stolen articles still belong to another {praeda) 
and the participatio in praeda is only permitted in necessitate extrema 
or quasi extrema. But if the wife against her will was compelled. 


by threats, to employ the articles in the household, then she sins 
neither by participation in the theft itself — for her participation is 
only very remote and is permissible for sufificient reasons — nor 
through participation in the stolen articles themselves, provided she 
had the intention to make restitution ; for her participation then only 
means that she retains the matter and does not return it (Konings, 
/. c; Berardi, Praxis Confess., n. 257). And I hold this view to 
be right even if the wife does not know how she ever can make 
restitution, or is certain that she can not. Of course the wife must 
save the ill-gotten property as much as possible, and make an effort 
to render final restitution possible. 

2. As regards the obligation of restitution, (1) on account of 
the money derived from the stolen property, the wife, and under 
the given conditions the children too, are not obliged to make restitu- 
tion, neither ratione rei acceptae, nor ratione acceptionis; for they 
have not wronged anybody. 

(2) As regards the part of the stolen property used for them- 
selves they are obliged to make restitution unless it was used to 
relieve extreme want. The amount of restitution they are obliged 
to make must be proportionate: (a) to the extent in which they 
unjustly, effectively and sinfully participated in the theft; (b) to 
the extent in which they partook of what was stolen, even if they 
did not sin by employing the articles for their own use. 



Case. — ^John received from Paul the present of a horse, which he 
afterwards sold to Peter for $250. A few days after the sale the 
horse died a natural death. John then learned that the horse he 
had received as a present had been stolen from Henry. Now John 
wishes to know what he is to do with the $250. 

1. Is John a possessor in good, bad, or doubtful faith? 

2. What are the principles of restitution for a possessor such as 
John is? 

3. Is John obliged to restitution, and to whom? 

1. In the case John was evidently a possessor in good faith. He 
did not know the horse he sold was stolen property until after the 
death of the horse, and he is now willing to restore the $250 to the 
rightful owner. 

2. (1) The person in good faith, just as soon as he learns that 
he is retaining the property of another, is obliged to restore it in its 
actual condition; that is, in whole or in part, as the case may be, 
together with whatever emolument he may have derived therefrom : 
id in quo difior f actus est. 

(2) If the property of another person perishes while held by a 
possessor in good faith, and he has not enriched himself thereby, 
he is obliged to nothing: res perit domino. 

(3) If the person in good faith sells the property of another to a 
third party, and the rightful owner later claims it from this third 
party, in casit evictionis, the seller is obliged to restore to this 
third party the amount received. 


Those principles suppose, of course, that there had been no legiti- 
mate prescription in the case. 

3. (i) The common opinion of the theologians is that John is 
obliged to restitution. 

a. The more probable opinion holds that the $250 is to be re- 
stored to Henry, the rightful owner of the horse, because John has 
enriched himself by $250 at the expense of Henry. 

b. Others hold that John must restore the $250 to Peter, the pur- 
chaser, because the sale was invalid. 

(2) Some modern theologians (Bucceroni, Genicot, Noldin) hold 
that John is not bound to restitution at all, because neither Henry 
the owner nor Peter the purchaser can be said to have a right to the 
$250. Not Henry, because "res perit domino"; not Peter, because 
outside of the case of eviction, the seller acquires the full and entire 
dominion of the amount received. Consequently, "in dubio melior 
est conditio possidentis." 

The last opinion should be held as at least extrinsically probable, 
because of the authority of the theologians who teach it, and con- 
sequently John may be freed from all obligation to restitution. 




Case. — Cajus, a reckless young man, is induced by a solicitor of 
an insurance company to take a $2,000 insurance policy on an endow- 
ment plan ten years straight — that is, he has to make ten annual 
payments, after which he is entitled to $2,000. If he fails to make 
the second payment when it becomes due, and dies, his estate is 
entitled to nothing. If he fails to make the third payment when it 
becomes due, supposing he has made the second payment, his 
estate gets $400. The young man, a dissipated character, is not 
inclined to make the second payment. The solicitor, however, by 
extraordinary efforts, prevails upon him to make the second pay- 
ment. The third payment he refuses absolutely. Shortly after the 
refusal he dies. Some time before his death the insurance company 
inaugurated an automatic extension plan, by which Cajus would be 
entitled for a period of eight years to the full amount of the 
policy — $2,000. Cajus and the solicitor, however, had no knowl- 
edge of this new arrangement. 

If his death had occurred after the eight years he would be 
entitled to $400 — always on the supposition that he made the second 
payment — which he did. As Cajus died before the expiration of the 
eight years, the company sends check of $2,000 to the solicitor to 
be paid to the estate of the deceased. The solicitor, believing himself 
entitled to a special remuneration for his extraordinary efforts to 
induce Cajus to make a second payment, gives $800 to the estate 
of Cajus and retains $1,200 for himself. The estate is highly 
gratified, thinking itself entitled only to $400, according to the 
original contract, and not being aware of the automatic extension 
clause. Now the solicitor is tormented by scruples and reveals 


to the manager of the insurance company his transactions with the 
estate of Cajus. The management tells him to keep the amount 
of $1,200, since the estate of Cajus received double the amount of 
the original contract. Nevertheless, the solicitor is in doubt whether 
he may accept the answer of the management and honestly retain 
the $1,200, and now seeks a theological solution of the difficulty. 

Solution. — The solution of the above case depends upon the right 
application of the ordinary principles laid down by all moral theo- 
logians. No one has a right to claim as his own that which be- 
longs to another. The only point, therefore, to be decided is, who 
is the actual master of the money in question? Is the agent the 
owner, or are the heirs the owners? The agent claims it as his 
own, on the grounds that had he not prevailed upon the insured 
to continue as a member of the company, by the payment of the 
second annual premium, his policy would have lapsed, and his 
heirs would have received nothing; that is, he claims that he earned 
this excess sum ex industria. Secondly, his claim is based on the 
permission of the company, who told him to keep the twelve hun- 
dred dollars. Thirdly, he considers the sum his, for the reason 
that the heirs received even more than they had expected, and 
were satisfied with that amount. 

Now as to the first argument, we hold that it has no force. It 
is true that had the agent not persuaded the insured to keep up 
his policy it would have lapsed; but it is likewise true that in so 
doing, said agent was acting for the interests of the company, and 
in no sense as the agent of the insured, even though the insured 
profited by the industry of the company's employee. Since, then, 
the agent was acting as the employee of the company, he must 
look to the company for compensation for any extra labor involved 
in the protection of their interests. Nor does the fact that the 


insured profited by the industry of the agent change in the least 
this conclusion. For it is equally true that the insured profited 
by the industry of the agent when he first took out the insurance 
policy, though the agent did not, at that time, expect any com- 
pensation from the party insured. When the deceased renewed his 
policy, he entered into a contract with the company, which agreed 
to turn over to his heirs all moneys covered by that contract. Now, 
the money in question was covered by that contract and must 
therefore be turned over to the heirs of the insured, as it is their 
lawful property. Had the agent not prevailed upon the insured 
the heirs would not be entitled to one cent. Why? Because then 
there would have been no contract. But a non-existing contract 
can never change the status of an existing contract. 

The second argument is absolutely valueless. The company 
ceases to be the owner of the money at the death of the insured. 
Hence, it cannot give to the agent that over which it has no power, 
and hence cannot in justice deprive the heirs of the money be- 
longing to them. 

The third reason assigned is, that the heirs were satisfied 
with the amount received, for they did not expect to receive so 
much. But this reason is fallacious in assuming that they would 
have been satisfied had they known the exact condition of affairs. 
Had they known that they were entitled to $2,000 they never would 
have been satisfied with $800. Their ignorance does not alienate 
their acquired right; nor does it vest that right in the person of 
the agent. There is only one thing to be done, the agent must re- 
store the ill-gotten money to its lawful owner, viz., to the heirs of 
the deceased policyholder. 



Case. — During twenty years of service in a very large firm, 
Brown appropriated altogether about $10,000, taken at various times 
and in amounts varying from $1 to $100. Generally he was alone 
in his dishonesty, but sometimes, especially in the case of larger 
amounts, he had accomplices among his fellow workmen, with whom 
he shared the money stolen on the occasion. Moreover, during the 
past five years he had been a superintendent for the company at a 
good salary, and he had given employment in his department to a 
number of men on the express condition that they should pay him a 
percentage of their wages, foreseeing that most of them would get 
this money out of the company. And often, to increase his own as 
well as their earnings, he had instructed and encouraged them to re- 
port more time and labor than had actually been given to certain 
special work. All the money thus obtained by him from the men 
amounted to about $6,ooo. How much of this sum the men had 
unjustly taken from the company in order to pay him, and how much 
had come from false returns of work, he had no idea, having given 
no special thought to the matter. 

Fifteen years ago the company failed and dissolved, all its hold- 
ings being sold to pay its creditors. The assets were not sufficient to 
pay all the creditors in full. Brown went to a distant growing city 
and invested his savings in real estate. He was very successful, and 
is now worth over $100,000. During all these years he neglected the 
Sacraments. Recently he attended a mission and now desires to 
make all things right. 

Out of the many questions which this case suggests, let us con- 
sider the following, which will suffice for its ordinary solution. 


1. Were all Brown's thefts sins? 

2. Is the above statement of the case sufficient for the integrity 
of the confessions ? Or must Brown tell approximately the number 
of times he took an amount constitutive of mortal sin? 

3. Does it make any difference whether he was alone or had 
accomplices in his thefts? Is it necessary to mention this circum- 
stance in confession? 

4. As superintendent did he commit any special sin in instructing 
and influencing those under him to make exaggerated and unjust 
reports of work done? 

5. What about the hiring of men upon the condition named? Be- 
cause graft is a common practice of industrial life, is it therefore 
justifiable in conscience? Is it allowable to increase charges for 
work in order to meet the demands for graft ? 

6. Is the statement given for this feature sufficient for confes- 
sion? Or must Brown tell the number of men he led into these 
dishonest ways, the number of parties injured and the amount in 
each case? 

7. What restitution is he bound to make? Has he any obliga- 
tions of this kind on account of his accomplices or on account of 
those whom he wrongly advised and encouraged? 

8. Must he pay any interest? 

9. To whom shall he make restitution? 

I. It would seem that in such a case as Brown's, who steals when- 
ever the chance offers and whose only care is that he be not caught, 
each theft is to be considered as a distinct moral act. Therefore, his 
every theft of a separate sum deemed in this country materia abso- 
lute gravis certainly constitutes a distinct mortal sin, unless we sup- 
pose that he started out with the intention of stealing $10,000, or 


that seeing a chance to get away with a very large sum, say $i,ooo, 
he saw fit to take it in installments of from $50 to $100. His steal- 
ings of lesser amounts were only venial sins. If, however, in the 
course of any one week, or month, or perhaps two months, while 
appropriating these lesser amounts, he adverted to the fact that to- 
gether they amounted to a very considerable sum (a half larger 
than the materia gravis in a single theft), he was in this also guilty 
of mortal sin. (See Cath. Encyl. on theft; Tanquerey, 441, 444, 
edit. 1910.) 

2. In itself it is not sufficient. For just as a penitent who has been 
away from confession for years is obliged to tell the number of 
times he missed Mass or got drunk or sinned contra sextum, so 
must Brown tell the number of his mortal sins against justice, as 
nearly as he can. On those occasions when he took $100 at a seiz- 
ure, he committed only one mortal sin. At other times he no 
doubt committed several mortal sins, while getting a like sum. If, 
however, in the long interval of years, he has forgotten these details, 
the statement of his case as given would suffice in the confessional. 

3. Merely that there are accomplices does not change the nature 
of the sin of injustice and is not a circumstance which must be 
mentioned in the confession of the sin, except where a number con- 
spire to steal an amount materialiter gravis, though the amount 
taken by each is only levis. Of course there is more or less scandal. 

4. But that Brown advised and encouraged men under him to be 
dishonest toward their common employer is a sin against charity 
as well as against justice. To lead men into the habit of theft, as 
Brown did, is a grave sin against charity, even though we might 
make the very unlikely supposition that none of these men while 
under him ever sinned gravely in the matter. He sinned against 
justice and indeed gravely many times by reason of the serious 


losses incurred by the firm and others through this multipHed dis- 
honesty and thievery. 

5. As to giving men employment on the condition that they give 
the superintendent or foreman hiring them a portion of their earn- 
ings, while there is no justification for such action, and no adequate 
title to such moneys, since he gets a salary for this very work, unless 
it could be supposed the firm knew and approved thereof, never- 
theless it is difficult to assert there is sin in it. But if such a con- 
dition and levy is a proximate cause of leading the men to defraud 
the firm, in order to make up the amount of levy, or if in hiring 
the men the superintendent or foreman looks rather to his own 
profits than to the efficiency of the workmen, and the welfare of 
the firm, then he is sinning against justice, and mortally if the in- 
jury is grave. The same principles can be applied to all forms of 
graft. Graft is unlawful as often and in so far as it causes injus- 
tice. It is not lawful to make anyone pay for work not done, or to 
add to bills or to falsify returns in order to meet the demands of 
graft, unless the willingness of the master or employer to meet these 
gratuitous charges can be most reasonably presumed (see Sabetti 
No. 544 and No. 535, (60) ; Tanquerey No. 768). As to Brown's 
case, there can be no doubt that he committed grave sins in this 
respect, for he was knowingly and intentionally more or less the 
cause of direct injustice to his employers and to their patrons. 

6. Again we must say that in itself it is not sufficient for the in- 
tegrity of the confession. Brown was the cause of the sins of his 
men as mandans or at least consulens. Therefore he was the cause 
of grave scandal in the case of each man. Also he was the cause 
of grave sins against justice which each man committed. There- 
fore, in confession he is obliged to tell as nearly as he can the 
number of men so influenced, and the number of times they sinned. 


His remembrance of the facts may be extremely vague, but he can 
certainly be more explicit than is the statement of the case in its 
exposition. As to telling the number of the parties robbed, valde 

7. Plainly restitution must be made of the $10,000. Also, since 
he is more or less certain that all of the $6,000 or most of it was 
stolen by the men that they might have wherewith to pay his graft, 
he is bound to make restitution of all or, according as a conscientious 
judgment will determine, of most of it. Moreover, since this sum 
represents only a portion of the damage he caused to be inflicted 
upon others by the workmen, as mandans or consulens or co-operator, 
he is obliged to do what he can to repair all the damage thus in- 
flicted ; and if they have not made and will not make restitution of 
their share, he is bound to make good for them in so much and in 
so far as he was the efficient cause of all the thefts. It is stated 
he has no idea of the amount of certain losses for which he is 
responsible. There is, however, a minimum amount of which he 
can positively assert, "it is that much at least," and to the full 
extent of this minimum he is certainly obliged to make restitution. 

8. As to interest: Although it is true that res fructificat domino 
still in the payment of restitution interest cannot be demanded 
unless it is certain that the injustice had unquestionably caused a 
loss of this kind. Of course, if there is no doubt at all of the 
lucrum cessans in a given case, interest must be paid to the full 
extent of the loss. (Tanquerey 508. "Si dominus, utpote maxima 
solertia praeditus, vlginti per centum ex negotiatione lucrari solet, et 
per furtum impeditus est quominus id lucraretur, fur tenetur id sol- 
vere; secus non compensat damna in juste illata") Ordinarily, 
however, such is not the case. For there is no telling what might 
have happened to the principal had it remained with its rightful 


owner. True, he might have invested it advantageously or put it 
in a savings bank. But this is not certain, and so in praxi interest 
cannot always be demanded in restitution. (Tanquerey 510: "In 
praxi, vero, saepe difficile est determinare utrum et quandonam con- 
ditiones supradictae verificentur; si res dubia maneat, urgenda est 
soltimmodo compensatio valoris quern tempore furti res hahehat.") 
As a matter of fact, the affairs of the firm from which Brown stole 
were so badly managed that the company failed utterly. Indeed, 
the $10,000 which he is now restoring might have been lost alto- 
gether had he not taken it. Accordingly he is certainly not bound 
to pay interest on it. 

It would be differenc if Brown had stolen a horse and wagon 
from a poor expressman whose livelihood depended upon them, 
and who could not replace them, and upon whom as a result debts 
piled up as never before, and he and his family lived in hardship 
never experienced before. In such a case not only must restitution 
of horse and wagon be made, but also restitution on account of 
damnum emei'gens. 

9. As the firm from which Brown stole the $10,000 no longer 
exists in any way, and the administrator or receiver has no doubt 
long ago closed up its accounts, he must make some reasonable 
effort to find the heirs, creditors and stockholders, and according 
to his best judgment divide the money between them pro rata — in 
proportion to each one's just title to it. If he cannot find all the 
heirs, creditors and stockholders, he must hand over the shares of 
the missing ones to charity. The same rule must guide him in 
making restitution for damage done by him as mandans, consulens 
or efficient co-operator. 



Case. — The editor of a newspaper applies the fee still due to a 
deceased contributor, a member of a religious Order, to Masses 
for the repose of his soul. 

Question. — Did the editor act rightly? 

Solution. — This question must be answered in the negative. The 
fee due belonged to the contributor; it was his by legal right, and 
this right, like all other rights, was by his death transferred to his 
heirs, and to these, therefore, or to the estate this fee should have 
been paid. With death the right of a person to all his temporary 
possession ceases. It is, therefore, not allowed to apply part of 
the possessions of the deceased according to the supposed inten- 
tions of the deceased. Since all rights to his properties have gone 
to the heirs, these have the right to claim the property, and as 
long as this claim has not been satisfied the demands of justice are 
not fulfilled. To have Masses said for the deceased does not satisfy 
the claim of the heirs, therefore it is not capable of cancelling 
the indebtedness, which can only be satisfied by payment. Only a 
reasonable assumption of consent on the part of the heirs can make 
such a discharge of a debt legitimate. In the case of a member 
of a religious Order, the Order or religious community is the heir. 
In the same way as on the death of a member of a religious Order 
everything that he possessed or received from the Order for his 
use, or legitimately earned, reverts of itself to the Order, all legal 
claims of the deceased do so likewise, so that anything due to the 
deceased must be paid to the Order or community. In this case 
the application of money for Masses for the deceased is not a 


proper or sufficient payment. Of course, a religious Order would 
probably not object to such application of the money due, but if 
such objection would be made the fee would have to be paid in 
money. This member of a religious Order was entitled to payment 
for his work, and upon his death his legal claim becomes the legal 
claim of his heirs. 

In a religious community of simple vows the community is not 
the heir of the professed religious, unless made so by the last will 
of the religious. Such a community, nevertheless, could claim the 
fee in the present case because the community became the owner 
of this fee while the religious was alive. 



Case. — Felix, a prominent druggist in a suburban town, com- 
pounded a prescription for a business man of the town. Through 
carelessness he used a powerful drug not called for by the doctor's 
written orders, and as a consequence his customer was taken vio- 
lently sick, and was unable to leave his bed for three weeks. 

Question. — Is the druggist bound to compensate the business man 
for the loss sustained through his carelessness? 

Solution. — The consequence of an error made through careless- 
ness, must of necessity fall upon the shoulders of the one guilty 
of the carelessness. If this were not so, men could with impunity 
do considerable harm to their fellow-beings. So in the present case 
the druggist must feel that he owes to the business man a duty that 
fundamentally springs from the harm done by the mixing of drugs 
in a way marked by the lack, more or less, of a reasonable amount 
of care. There can be no doubt that the pharmacist should be 
mulcted for the benefit of the injured and sick business man. 

Theologians are fairly unanimous in the contention that no com- 
pensation, in justice, is due for the injury done to the health of the 
customer, that is, for the pain, weakness, physical weariness, etc. 
Their decision is that bodily damage can not (probably) be com- 
pensated for, by the bestowal or exchange of goods of another 
order. The reason for this is that commutative justice demands 
equality. Where this is impossible of attainment, then strict justice 
ceases its call for satisfaction. The claim is made that no equality 
exists between the life of man and money. Hence strict justice 
does not demand a monetary return for harm done to ones health, 
or bodily life. Of course this ignores the question of equity. 


The druggist, however, cannot be excused from repairing the 
injury done to the business interests of the sick man during the 
three weeks of sickness incidental to his mistake. Furthermore, the 
protracted illness has been a constant drain upon the money chest 
of the sick individual, and this, too, must be laid to the door of 
the careless pharmacist. Of course, extraordinary and unforeseen 
harm cannot be charged to the druggist. He is to be mulcted only 
in proportion to the degree of his guilt. Moreover, no charge can 
be made by the druggist for the medicine necessary to aid the re- 
covery of the sick man. For it would be manifestly unjust to make 
a man ill by one drug and then compel him to pay for the drugs 
needed to remove this illness. Hence the drugs are to be supplied 

The real difficulty to be overcome on this point is to do what 
justice calls for and still avoid injury to reputation. The amount 
of carelessness in the case surely does not demand the sacrifice of 
one's business reputation. Therefore the druggist must seek some 
method of conciliating the claims of justice to his customer with 
the preservation of his own good name. If this cannot be done, 
then the preservation of his reputation must take precedence over 
the lesser claims of pecuniary satisfaction for harm done. 



Case. — William, a native of New England, moved to Canada in 
order to live down the stigma of illegitimate birth. Here he was 
successful in business and finally married a lady of good family, 
concealing from her the condition of his birth. A few years later, 
James, a friend of his, traveling through Canada and hearing of 
William's marriage, intending no harm, divulged the hidden facts to 
a distant relative of William's wife, who, of course, immediately 
reported the matter to her. Hereupon the expected happened. 
James, conscience-stricken, hurried to Confession, only to be told 
that he had fallen into mortal sin. 

Question. — Was James guilty of mortal sin? 

Solution. — This is a case of detraction, and a grave case. Every 
man, by the law of God, has a right to his reputation. His good 
name is worth more to him than his bank account and, therefore, 
no one may steal this valuable asset, any more than he may steal 
his neighbor's purse, without falling into serious sin. The reason 
for this is evident. Grave and often irremediable harm is done, 
and this unjustly, in depriving one of his good name. In the pres- 
ent case we have a forceful exemplification of this. William's wife's 
parents would never have given their daughter to him in marriage, 
had they been aware of the defect which stigmatized William when 
he came into this world. For it is a fact that spurious children are 
frequently looked down upon, and treated as outcasts, though the 
curse that comes upon them is none of their own doing. 

Secondly, the knowledge of the existence of this blot often inter- 
feres with the good of the marriage, affecting at times the primary 
as well as the secondary end of the union. It is a widely accepted 


theory that children of ill-gotten parents receive as an inheritance 
a disposition which early shows tendencies to various evils, es- 
pecially to that of lust; and though this be by no means universal, 
it occurs frequently enough to create a feeling of aversion to a 
marriage of legitimate with illegitimate offspring. This feeling of 
moral infection, with its partiality towards moral degeneration of 
the family tree, naturally causes parents to throw every impedi- 
ment in the way of marriage between their children and the 

From this we can see what a shock the revelation of the defect 
in William's birthright brought to his wife and her relations. To 
realize that they had been deceived by him was cause plenty for 
grief; but add to this the feeling that their family escutcheon had 
been dishonored, and the purity of their blood tarnished, and we 
face a condition well calculated to destroy all harmony — all peace 
in that family. Here then is another and serious result of James's 

He has succeeded then in lowering William in the eyes of his 
wife and her relatives, if not in the eyes of his own children ; he has 
put enmity between husband and wife, which frequently leads to 
the divorce court; he belittles William in his own estimation, and 
thus, in robbing him of what was most precious, he certainly has 
committed a very serious mortal sin. The fact that he did not 
intend the harm does not acquit him; he must have foreseen the 
effect that would necessarily follow from his revelation; hence, he 
must accept the responsibility entailed by that revelation. 



Case. — Rusticus grievously calumniated the deceased Strigonius 
in a newspaper article, and this article found many believers ; it 
can not be said that the calumny has been forgotten; with many at 
least this is not the case. Rusticus had had few scruples about 
his action, as the honor and good name of the dead had been to 
him a matter of indifference ; on his death-bed, however, he was 
much disturbed about the matter and told his confessor about it. 
The latter insists that the defamatory article be retracted, and that 
this take place publicly, because the calumny was a public one, and 
has not yet passed into oblivion ; he grants, however, that this 
retraction may be so made as not to put the retractor in a bad 
light, if this can be done. Rusticus opines that it cannot be done 
without hurting his honor; and since in cases where they clash, the 
love of self, ceteris paribus, has precedence over the love of the 
neighbor, it appears here that restitution is a moral impossibility. 
In order however to do everything morally possible, Rusticus begged 
forgiveness of the son and the heirs of Strigonius, asking them at 
the same time to release him from formal retraction. All this 
was agreed to by the son of Strigonius. 

Question. — Is the confessor to declare that this procedure of 
Rusticus satisfies the law? 

\. Defamation and calumny of deceased persons are not seldom 
regarded as something indifferent, because for the dead honor and 
good name are said to have no longer any value. But this is a lax 
and absolutely false view, for to calumniate the dead is for many 


reasons a serious wrong. The chief reason is the nature of calumny 
which is wicked and hence allowable under no circumstances, not 
even in the case of the deceased. The second reason is that every 
one desires to leave an honored memory after his death, and by 
death is not to be deprived of the rights to honor and good name. 
"Mortui iure ad famam non spoliantur, licet e vivis excesserint," say 
the Moralists. Further reasons which here come into consideration 
are : It happens not infrequently that through such calumny the 
profession to which the departed belonged suffers injury and great 
scandal is given; the friends and relatives of the calumniated have 
a great sorrow put upon them, and under certain conditions may 
suffer injury in their temporal affairs. Such a calumny may be 
made the reason for cancelling a marriage engagement. 

2. As concerns the departed himself, not only is his memory dis- 
honored, but the zeal to remember him in prayer will be lessened, 
if not altogether abandoned. The edifying example he gave in life, 
the good teaching and exhortations that we heard from him, will 
lose their power and efBcacy. To all this must be added that the 
departed is helpless against the malice of the calumniator, cannot 
protect or defend himself, cannot expose the calumniator, nor prove 
the untruth of the calumny. This is exactly the reason why evil- 
speaking about the dead has always been abhorred. Hence the old 
saying: De mortuis nil nisi bonum. 

3. Calumny of the dead is, therefore, not only opposed to charity 
but also to justice, and consequently involves the duty of restitution. 
The honor of which we have robbed the dead — his honorable mem- 
ory — must be restored, and if the calumny has been the causa efficax 
damni for a third party, for instance for the son or daughter of 
the departed, then also in this respect must the injury be made 
good. This is according to the unanimous teaching of the Moralists. 


4. Let us consider in detail the obligation of restitution. 

The teaching of all Moralists is that the calumniator of a dead 
person is obliged to retract, and that he must do so publicly if the 
calumny was public. Further, the Moralists go on to say, he is 
only released from this obligation when, and as long as, its fulfilment 
is a real moral impossibility, or if his calumny was not believed, 
or if in the meantime the same was shown to be false and was 
made known as such, or, finally, if the calumny has been forgotten, 
especially if the one defamed was little known, held no prominent 
position, etc. (S. Alph., nn. 997-999). The claim that the retraction 
of the calumny will injure the honor of the calumniator does not 
make the retraction a moral impossibility. If we would admit this, 
no calumniator would ever have to make restitution. It is true 
that in the case of a clash, other things being equal, precedence is 
given in the ordo caritatis to the love of self over love of the 
neighbor ; but in considering this rule we must not forget the other 
rule: in pari conditione potior est conditio innocentis. Therefore 
the honor of slandered innocence, under equal or nearly equal condi- 
tions, has precedence over the honor of the defamer, whose malice 
caused his neighbor to suffer injury to his honor. If the defamer 
finds it difficult to act according to this rule he should remember 
that he himself created the situation. Only if it is a case of quite 
unequal circumstances, and if the injury to the honor of the defamer 
would be a much greater evil, might a moral impossibility be as- 
sumed. But this is an exceptional happening, and not to be pre- 
sumed unless positively proved from the special conditions. 

5. Can a calumniator of a dead person be released by the heirs 
from the obligation to retract ? 

The defamed person may release the defamer from retraction, 
and then the defamer is released from this obligation mentioned 


unless this release contained in itself a disadvantage to the defamed 
which the defamer was obliged to prevent ex iustitia. This cannot 
be applied to a case of calumniating a dead person, for in that 
case such a release cannot be ascertained. The son and the heirs of 
a dead person can, of course, remit restitution in regard to an 
injury which was caused them through calumniating their dead 
father, but not in regard to the honor of which the father after 
his death was unjustly deprived, for the son is not master of the 
honor of his departed father. "Ohligatio restitutionis faciendae 
urget etiam, si qnis mortuis iniuste detraxerit, neque haeredes earn 
condonare possimt, cum famae alienae non sint domini." 

6. The fact that in our times the restitution here in question is 
not much thought of, must not induce the confessor to take a course 
which would apply the Saviour's words : 'Tf the blind lead the blind, 
they both fall into the ditch." In order, on the other hand, to 
burden no one with something he is not obliged to do, he will 
conscientiously, and without regard to person, investigate thoroughly 
whether or not there is good reason present here for releasing from 
restitution, namely from retraction. 



Case. — The Curate of X. was called hurriedly to a dying man, 
whom we may call Paul. In his confession Paul said that one thing 
especially gave him great worry, namely, the fact that he had 
misappropriated property. Many years ago, while he was book- 
keeper for a merchant, and pressed for money, he had taken two 
hundred dollars, and the theft had never been noticed. Now, how- 
ever, he intended to set this matter right in order that he might die 
in peace, but not knowing how to go about it, he asked the curate 
if he would not settle the matter for him. In order to put the dying 
man at ease the curate said he was willing to help, and Paul should 
give him the money so that he might be able to restore it. Paul 
now explained that he was possessed of only half the sum defrauded, 
and for the other half the curate should turn to his heirs, namely 
his wife and two grown children. He would leave this matter to 
the prudence of the confessor, but begged that his good name might 
oe spared. He had always had the reputation of a man of honor, 
and his wife and children must never find out that the departed 
husband and father had been a thief. The curate, seeing that the 
man was in his last moments, promised to attend to this point, and 
administered the sacraments. There now remained the question of 
the restitution, and this gave the curate no little trouble and anxious 
thought. On the one hand, he was to help the merchant regain 
his money, on the other hand, how could he recover it from the 
heirs without hurting the good reputation of the deceased. 

Question. — What is to be done in this difficulty? 

1. That the curate Is entitled by the instructions of Paul to 


apply to the heirs, there can be no possible doubt, for "haeres 
cum bonis etiam omnia debita et onera realia defuncti in se suscipit" 
(Lehmkuhl, Theol Mor. I. n., 1157, IV). But how could this 
demand be made of them without jeopardizing the honor of the 
deceased? In our case this could be effected only under the title 
of a legatum pium, which Paul could be said to have intrusted to 
his confessor, the curate, the latter to make use of it according to his 
own judgment. This would not be an untruth on the part of the 
curate as, according to the Moralists, that which a testator wills for 
the repose of his soul, or to set right a wrong that evidently entails 
a restitutio facienda, may be regarded as a legatum pium, in so 
far at least as it is as binding upon the conscience of the heirs as 
a really pious bequest. 

2. Another question, now to be taken into consideration is, 
whether it is prudent to make a demand under this title upon the 
heirs, and from this follows the further question, whether restitu- 
tion in our case is morally possible. Let us here leave out of consid- 
eration the fact that a demand of this kind, even under the guise 
of a pious bequest, may arouse the suspicion of the heirs that there 
was some wrong-doing on the part of Paul that is to be righted. Let 
us not speak even of the embarrassment in which the curate will 
be placed should he be questioned by the heirs as to the application 
of the legatum pium. Let us ask, would it not be an awkward thing 
for the curate to make such a demand from the heirs, especially 
if perhaps some legatum pium is already mentioned in the will? 
And will he be believed if he states that Paul made this legacy 
entirely of his own free will, and without any inducement on the 
curate's part? The mere suspicion of legacy-hunting is harmful, 
and calculated to bring it about that the spiritual activity of the 
priest at the bed-side of the sick and dying will be regarded with 


suspicion and mistrust. This is all the more likely as in cases of 
this kind even good Catholics are wont to become suspicious, espe- 
cially if they consider themselves injured in their inheritance. The 
admonitions given in Pastoral Theology to priests and confessors not 
to interfere in matters pertaining to wills and legacies, but to restrict 
themselves conscientiously to their care for the soul, are full of 
wisdom. In our case such interference did not exist, either directly 
or indirectly, yet for reasons of pastoral prudence we would strongly 
advise the curate not to present such a request to the heirs, even 
though the merchant may receive back only half of the money due 

3. It is evident that the curate is not bound to make good the 
other half of the sum ex propriis. He has fulfilled his duty towards 
the merchant. As confessor he has undertaken the restitution in 
Paul's stead, but it is no fault of his that he can do so only in 
part. Or can it be that as Paul's representative he is bound to do 
more than Paul himself could do? According to a universally ac- 
cepted principle Paul is excused entirely, or at least partially from 
restitution if a moralis impotentia exists. The curate is similarly 
placed, because the restitution of the second half of the sum is 
for him beset with such difficulties that these constitute a true 
impotentia moralis, which relieves him from any further obligation 
in the case. 

4. It cannot be said that the curate was responsible for this 
inability by imprudently undertaking the execution of the restitu- 
tion. Under the circumstances, he could not have acted differently, 
as there was not a moment to be lost if Paul was to receive the last 
sacraments, which was far more important than the whole matter 
of restitution. But, even though there had been sufficient time, if 
the curate by not exercising sufficient prudence and foresight ar- 


ranged the matter of restitution prejudicially to the merchant, even 
then he would not be obhged to make restitution, as in this case 
he would have been wanting in charity but not in justice. As 
confessor he was not concerned in the first place and ex officio with 
the honum vel damnum temporale tertii, but with the honum vel 
damnum spirituale of the penitent. 



Case. — Peter, an aged man, without wife or children, promises 
to his faithful servant a legacy of fifteen hundred dollars to induce 
her to remain in his service. This legacy he actually puts in his 
will. Eventually he falls grievously ill and feels the approach of 
death. Now he becomes uneasy in his mind and fears that his 
relatives, the legal heirs, will be indignant over the legacy to his 
servant, and he decides to lessen the amount. He mentioned the 
matter to his servant and she is urgently asked to content herself 
with half the amount, and, furthermore, she is requested to inform 
his heirs of this change at the reading of the will. The servant does 
not take kindly to this proposition, but gives her consent in order 
to ease her dying master's mind. After his death, however, she lets 
the heirs pay her the full legacy, which they cheerfully do, consid- 
ering it proper that so faithful a servant should be provided for in 
her old age. Now, however, the servant feels troubled in conscience, 
because she has not kept her promise; and she asks her confessor 
whether she may keep the whole legacy. 

Solution. — Above all it is necessary to ascertain whether the prom- 
ise is binding under the circumstances mentioned. The servant's 
dislike of the proposition was overcome only by sympathy for the 
dying man, and hence her consent might be considered not entirely 
voluntary. On the other hand, the fact that she gave her consent 
with a "heavy heart," as she says, proves that she was fully aware of 
what she was doing : and that suffices to render the consent a volun- 
tary one. The fact that a strong emotion influences an act does not 
take away from it the free will, if the person's judgment is suffi- 


ciently clear to realize the nature of the act. Otherwise most mortal 
sins might not be mortal sins ; for indeed most of them are commit- 
ted in the heat of passion and yet free will is essential in mortal sin. 
Hence Lugo says {De iust. et iure, disp. 23, n. 18) : "Sententia 
communis et vera docet, ad obligationem ex promissione requiri et 
sufficere advertentiam plenam, quae ad peccatum mortage sufficeret, 
etiamsi calore iracundiae vel alia passione fiat." 

Of greater importance here is another fact that would appear as 
opposed to the voluntary character of the promise. There was 
present an error, namely, the supposition that the heirs would be 
displeased with the legacy. This error, it is true, was an error of 
the dying man, and the direct cause of his request, but the same 
error, no doubt, influenced the servant's promise; otherwise she 
would surely have given her consent conditionally, namely, that she 
would agree to a smaller amount if the heirs would really show dis- 
pleasure. We have here, therefore, an error causam dans contractui, 
and such an one makes every contractus gratuitus a failure, at least 
in foro conscientiae (Compare Lehmkuhl, Theol. Mor., 1 n. 1063). 
Therefore, the servant's promise is not binding. 

If the old man's supposition had not proved an error, if the heirs 
had really shown displeasure at the legacy, the promise would have 
been binding. The question then would be, does it involve an obli- 
gation of strict justice, with obligation to make restitution, or merely 
an obligation of fidelity (obligatio fidelitatis) involving no obligation 
of restitution? Either may be the case in a promise. "I promise 
to give you this and that" may mean I pledge my word, my fidelity, 
that I will give you this thing; but it may also mean I invest you 
with the right to demand this thing from me at the proper time. 
The latter meaning is not the usual nature of a promise as such, 
hence such meaning must be expressed in some positive way in order 


to be valid. We speak, indeed, in the case of a promise about the 
"right" to the thing promised. However, this is a right only in an 
abstract sense, and is really nothing more than the right to say to 
the one who made the promise : "Either you keep your word, or I 
must henceforth regard you as an unreliable person." The servant 
had given her word that at the reading of the will she would re- 
nounce part of her legacy. Accordingly there was only an obligation 
of fidelity, in the event that the heirs would be displeased with her 
legacy. The obligation of restitution would not be present in her 



Case. — Longinus, a wealthy citizen of Delaware and a bachelor/ 
gave to Helena, his sister, who was a widow, a valuable piece of 
property, accepting her promise to give five hundred dollars a year 
to St. Eusebius' Orphan Asylum. Within a month Longinus died 
suddenly. The transfer was then contested by Veronica, another 
widowed sister, on some legal technicality, and the courts decided 
against Helena. The property was then divided equally between 
Helena and Veronica. Now Helena wants to know whether she 
is bound to pay the five hundred dollars or not, or does she fulfil 
her end of the bargain by paying only one-half of that amount. 

Question. — How far is she obliged in conscience? 

Solution. — First of all, is she obliged to pay the five hundred 
dollars ? 

No, she is not. The agreement between herself and her brother, 
while presumably a valid one when made, was in point of fact 
an invalid one, for the courts discovered a secret defect which 
robbed it of its legality. It is evident, then, that Longinus did 
not keep his part of the contract, which called for an actual and 
valid conveyance of the property to his sister; and though we 
cannot accuse him of lack of good faith, yet his error, a costly one 
to Helena, since it deprived her of one-half the property, affected 
the substance of the contract, and thereby relieved Helena of the 
obligation she assumed when she consented to her brother's pro- 
posal. As, then, she did not receive what her brother promised and 
intended to give her, she is not bound to carry out his wish as to 
the five hundred dollars. 

(2) Since she received one-half of the very property in ques- 


tion, is she obliged to pay one-half the stipulated sum? No, she 
is not bound to pay even two hundred and fifty dollars. As no 
part of the agreement was actualized, in no way can she be com- 
pelled to pay any part of the money to the Orphan Asylum. While 
it is true she did come into possession of a large part of the prop- 
erty involved, yet she became possessed of it as an heir at law 
and under the terms of the general law whereby the next of kin 
are pro rata heirs to the estate of one who dies intestate. Not 
coming into possession of this special donation invalidly made 
by her brother, she cannot be said to be bound for one half the 

(3) Is Veronica held to pay the five hundred or the two hundred 
and fifty dollars? No, we can allege no valid reason why she 
is under obligation to pay a single cent of the money, for she 
was not the cause of the failure of the agreement between her 
brother and sister. 

She has in this matter violated no claim of justice, hence 
she is not bound to make up for any loss suffered by the Orphan 
Asylum, by reason of the decision of the civil court. If the sisters 
agree to give the sum of five hundred dollars or any part of it 
to the Orphan Asylum, they do so from motives of charity, or 
out of respect for the wishes of their dead brother. Neither can 
this wish on the part of Longinus be held to be a pious bequest 
or donation. The very essence of such a donation requires that 
it be given directly and absolutely to pious causes or be committed 
to some one else, with the express mandate that it be handed over 
to the pious cause specified. 

No such donation is expressed or implied in the given case, and 
though the Orphan Asylum does as a matter of fact lose the yearly 
gratuity, this happens through no fault of those who inherit the 


estate of the decedent. It must be said, therefore, that both of 
the sisters can act as they please in this matter with a clear con- 
science. They might be advised to execute the wish of their de- 
funct relative, but this is another matter. They cannot be com- 
pelled to do so. 



Case. — A wealthy man saw a good chance to make a profitable 
deal. A coal mine, worked in his vicinity at great profit, ac- 
quires from the neighboring farms additional land, and gets it 
at a low price because the country people are ignorant of its 
real value. Our wealthy man figured: "I will buy the farm 
lands, offering for them somewhat more than the mine does, and 
then sell the same to the mine owners at a big profit: for when 
they see that they are dealing with a man who knows, they will 
surely pay more than they do now." 

Question. — Can this be done with a good conscience? 

Solution. — No, by this action the man sins against charity. It 
would be a duty of charity to explain to the owners the value of 
their land and the error they are making, instead of turning their 
ignorance to one's own advantage. That the man pays them more 
for their acres than the mine does, renders the unfairness some- 
what less, but does not remove it. The appearance of a generous 
action is merely a pretense, and cannot deceive one as to the selfish 
motive of the whole proceeding. Here as always the words of 
Christ apply : "Omnia quaecumque vultis ut faciant vobis homines, 
et facite illis" (Matth. 7, 12). A man of genuine charity, a true 
friend of the people, would employ his better knowledge to the 
benefit of his neighbors and would either divide the profit with 
them, or, since they are more in need than he, give them the 
whole profit and thus protect the poor from great disadvantage. 

It may be asked whether these transactions, dictated by egoism, 


are unjust and unlawful, whether therefore the wealthy man in 
question is under the obligation of making restitution? To this is 
to be answered: No; for here it is not question of an error as to the 
substance of tlie object purchased, but as to its accidental qualities, 
which happen to render it more valuable to the mining company and 
to this wealthy man, than to other purchasers. The country people's 
error is, therefore, not an essential but an accidental one, and this 
renders the purchase of itself not invalid. But the chief point is 
this: the error was not brought about through cheating or deceit: 
the wealthy man did nothing to give to the owners an erroneous 
view as to the value of their fields ; he therefore is not the effectual 
cause of their error and of the detriment suffered by them through 
him. Of course, the wealthy man let it take place, and did not 
prevent the harm which was caused the farm owners. But a 
non obstans is obliged to restitution only when it was his duty 
ex officio, contractu vel quasi contractu, to prevent the injury, and 
in such relation the wealthy man does not stand to the farmers, 
as he is not appointed their protector, nor master or superior, nor 
even adviser. He is obliged to avert harm to them only as a matter 
of charity towards his f ellowman ; but a violation of charity that 
is not accompanied by a violation of justice does not impose the 
obligation of restitution. Therefore the action in question was not 
unjust, but unfair and uncharitable. 



Case. — Titus is charged with arson. As a matter of fact he has 
destroyed by fire the house of Louis, who had refused to be black- 
mailed and was in consequence made to suffer the loss of his prop- 
erty. Mary, to whom Titus is engaged to be married, has certain 
knowledge of the crime. Titus told it to her in a spirit of boasting. 
On the witness stand, and under oath, Mary is questioned as to her 
knowledge, and she stoutly claims ignorance of the event under 
investigation. This she does because of a well grounded fear that 
Titus would take revenge for betrayal by an act of physical violence. 
Moreover, should he be sent to prison, her marriage would be 

Question. — Is she justified in her denial? 

Solution. — In a public court the common good demands that 
every witness shall speak the truth. The obligation of obedience to 
legitimate authority calls for such an avowal. More than this, the 
oath which those in the witness box must take, invests all testimony 
thus given with a religious value, and hence any infraction of the 
truth would be a sin against the virtue of religion. Finally, com- 
mutative justice renders the truth imperative, and as a result a lying 
witness would be obliged to restitution, should he inflict any loss by 
reason of his "mendacious testimony. But all theologians hold that 
a witness, even when bound by oath in open court, may be excused 
from telling the truth outright under certain well defined condi- 
tions. Also the civil law, for instance, allows a witness to hide 
the truth when direct avowal would tend to incriminate himself. 
In some cases it even refuses to accept a confession of guilt, though 


affirmed by oath. Again, the law allows particular, confidential 
communications, those for instance between physician and patient, 
between priest and penitent, to be withheld from knowledge, on the 
ground of public expediency. So in Canon Law a witness may be 
excused from telling all he knows, if what he knows comes to him 
as a secretum commissum, or if, from testimony demanded from 
him under oath, he has reason to fear more than ordinary harm to 
his reputation, to his goods, or violent, physical harm to his person. 

The amount of such harm must be weighed against the harm 
coming to the community, or to a third party, by reason of the 
refusal to divulge what one knows to be true. In the case before 
us we do not deem that Titus could do such grave harm, because 
his conviction would mean a very long residence in jail, and hence 
the probability of vengeance would be slight. 

Should he escape conviction, or receive only a short sentence, 
then, undoubtedly, Mary would have grave reason to fear for her 
personal safety. In this circumstance she would be justified in 
refusing to divulge her knowledge, for to do so would be to risk her 
own life. 

Her concealing the facts does no positive harm to a third party, 
or to the state, while it does protect her from any serious bodily 
and mental evil. On the other hand, mere friendship, however 
close, would by no means free her from the necessity of telling the 
truth, and the whole truth, at the judicial investigation. We are 
of the opinion that her marriage engagement would excuse her 
from giving the sought after testimony. We hold this for two 
reasons: First, because under such circumstances her knowledge 
was gained suh secreto commissio, and, secondly, to divulge what 
she knows would work a more serious harm to her than the refusal 


to testify would work to the state or to the individual. Hence she 
is not guilty of perjury, at least canonically, and consequently she 
is not bound to restitution in any sense or to any one, for by her 
just refusal she has not violated commutative justice. 



Case. — James, who confesses about once a month, repeatedly ac- 
cuses himself of omitting his morning and evening prayers on at 
least twenty days of the month. This has gone on for about two 
years ; for despite renewed promises, there has been no improvement. 
The confessor is in doubt as to whether James fulfills his obligation 
of prayer. 

Question. — ^What should be the confessor's attitude? 

Solution. — There is of course an obligation to pray and to per- 
severe in prayer. Our Lord said we should always pray and never 
grow weary. But how should we interpret this command of Our 
Saviour ? There can be no doubt that for adults prayer is an essen- 
tial means to salvation. Without it we cannot save our souls. The 
reason for this is that God has determined not to give His efficacious 
graces to those who do not ask for them. It is clear that people who 
do not ask for grace, are not much concerned about their ultimate 
perseverance. They are indifferent alike to God's rights and their 
own eternal welfare. In this neglect is involved a breach of God's 
Law commanding men to pray. For there existed under the Old 
Law an obligation to address God in prayer even as such an obliga- 
tion exists under the New Law. How often then should we pray in 
order to do justice to God's decree? While no definite determina- 
tion can be given on this point, it is certain in the minds of 
theologians that we do our duty essentially by frequent prayer. 
Hence our Lord's words as given by St. Luke are to be interpreted 
in this sense. It is evident then that the omission of daily morning 
or evening prayer is not necessarily sinful. There are many ways 
of praying frequently other than by our night or morning prayers. 


It remains true, nevertheless, that he who constantly neglects morn- 
ing and evening prayer will eventually lose the habit and spirit of 
prayer, and so in time will not pray frequently. By this sinful 
negligence he will surely jeopardize his soul's salvation. We can 
safely say that while per se the omission may not be sinful, the 
motive behind the neglect may be. Hence confession of the omis- 
sion is to be permitted. The confessor should urge the penitent to 
use more care in the matter of daily prayer, not on the ground of 
the proximate prevention of sin, but on the usual theological basis, 
pointing out the necessity of prayer, its usefulness and so on. He 
should strongly encourage his penitent to form the habit of frequc^nt 
and brief ejaculatory prayers; as these consume no time and can 
be made anywhere and at any hour, he can hope for a good measure 
of success, while by this practice he is making it easier for the 
penitent to get back into the Christian habit of morning and even- 
ing prayer. 




Case. — Ximina, when a maiden of seventeen, made a vow to the 
Blessed Virgin, which she faithfully fulfils, though it entails many 
hardships and consumes much of her free time. A year ago, at 
the age of twenty-three, she married Rimines and has ever since 
remained true to the practices demanded by the vow. Her husband 
has remonstrated with her many times, claiming that she is harming 
herself by the cultivation of the vow of piety. His reasoning having 
no effect, he finally placed the matter before his confessor. Father 
Leo, who told him that priests had not the jurisdiction to set aside 
vows, even of their penitents, but that he (Rimines) as a husband 
had such jurisdiction and could nullify the vow of Ximina. Rim- 
ines acted on the advice of his confessor, and now his wife, full 
of anxiety, consults her confessor as to her duty in the matter. 

Question. — What must Ximina do? 

Solution. — Father Leo, the husband's confessor, spoke correctly 
when he affirmed that no priest, neither pastors nor confessors, had 
the power of annulling vows of any description. The ordinary 
jurisdiction for such action is vested in the Pope, in Bishops and 
in Prelates of religious Orders. The pastor and confessor must 
have delegated jurisdiction before he can validly annul vows that 
bind in conscience. Sometimes this delegated jurisdiction is con- 
ceded in the faculties given to every priest authorized to work in 
a given diocese. But generally this is not the case. Father Leo 
was also giving a true theological decision when he informed Rim- 


ines that, as the husband of Ximina, he had the power vested in 
him of setting aside any vow made by his wife. A vow may be 
annulled directly or indirectly. Directly, it may be set aside by one 
who has power over the will of the person who has bound himself 
by the vow. Inferiors in their relations to superiors can take upon 
themselves duties imposed by a vow only conditionally, that is with 
the consent of the superior. If this consent is refused then no vow 
is binding. Under this ruling, religious, children and wives are not 
capable of taking a vow without the consent of superiors, of parents, 
or of husband. So that, following the logic of this decision, Ximina 
could be released from any vow taken after her marriage, by virtue 
of the power over her will vested in her husband by divine authority, 
if said vow had been taken without his consent. Then the vow 
would have been taken in prejudice to his lawful rights. 

But the vow in question was taken prior to the woman's marriage, 
when Rimines had no authority over her will. This is true, but 
a vow may be nullified even indirectly, that is by one who has 
authority over the matter of the vow. Hence a husband who is 
by the divine plan the head of the wife, has dominion over her 
will in all things that pertain to the woman as wife, mother, mistress 
of the household, etc. This action on the part of the husband is 
valid when done, even without just cause. It is likewise licit when 
the head of the family feels that the fulfilment is irksome to him, 
or prejudicial to the best interests of family life. So that, in the 
given case, the husband Rimines may both, validly and licitly, use 
the jurisdiction that God has confided to his keeping, and annul 
the vow of Ximina even though it was taken before her marriage. 
She voluntarily submits herself to this power when she gives herself 
to him in the bonds of matrimony. On her part she, too, may 
nullify the vows of her husband indirectly, when they cause him 


to neglect the duties he assumed by becoming a husband and when 
the vow thus interferes with the rights she assumed by becoming 
his wife. Ximina is bound to obey her husband, who now releases 
her from the binding force of her vow. 



Case. — Recently I discovered that two of my friends have for 
some time past been in the habit of attending seances at which 
crystal gazing was a regular feature. I was greatly shocked at 
the discovery because both are otherwise good Catholics, and are 
frequent recipients of the Sacraments. Upon broaching the matter 
I was more shocked when informed that they had been told that 
they could without sin keep up their visitation of the house of the 
seances. I insisted that their action could not from the standpoint 
of morals be defended. I bluntly stated that they were guilty of 

Question. — Am I right in my contention? 

Solution. — Crystal gazing is to be reckoned as one of the forms 
of divination. It is a superstitious practice and as such is an in- 
fraction of the First Commandment. The malice of the sin is in 
this that the devil is called upon to give his aid in the acquisition of 
knowledge that is secret or hidden. That the devil does help be- 
times is beyond cavil. Perhaps no mention is made of the devil's 
name, but the very use of such inadequate means to come to a 
knowledge of what is occult, means which have no natural connec- 
tion with the end in view, and which have not been sanctioned by 
God, is tantamount to a call upon the prince of evil. Such action 
is necessarily sinful and grievously so. God is insulted by such 
friendly intercourse with one who is His enemy, and who has no 
power except that which is permitted him by God. Our Creator 
is the keeper of the secrets of the past, present and future, whether 
of the human heart or of nature. The crystal gazer ignores the 


God of all knowledge and seeks aid from him whose great desire 
and constant effort is to displace God in the hearts of men. He 
will help man to reach the forbidden, if man will help him to 
unthrone God. Hence there is entailed a form of devil-worship 
in this evil practice which makes it abominable in the sight of the 
all-wise and all-holy God. Scripture says "the Lord abhorreth all 
these things"; so that we must conclude that a penitent cannot be 
absolved who refuses to give up what is so sinful, and which 
experience proves is so full of danger to a Christian's faith. It is 
difficult to explain how any one with a knowledge of his religion 
could tell these divinizers that they could continue their evil-doings 
without falling into sin. Of course if they are not serious believers 
in the fruitfulness of this uncanny means of attaining knowledge, 
or attend merely out of idle curiosity or as a pastime or a joke, 
they are to be excused from mortal sin, but not from venial sin. 
However, even in this event we must take into account the danger 
of scandal, which is great if their habit is known, and, what is of 
more importance, the risk they run of suffering shipwreck in their 
faith, for, as the wise Augustine once said, the devil is pleased to 
tempt men to seek the occult so that "they may become more curious 
and get themselves more tangled in the manifold snares of per- 
nicious error." You are certainly right in your contention. 



Case. — Charles, a tutor in a college, and much trusted by most 
of the young men of the institution, receives a visit from one of 
the students, James, who requests a promise of secrecy in a matter 
he is about to confide to the tutor. Charles without hesitation gives 
the promise, and then learns that William, a member of the senior 
class, is corrupting the morals of the boys in the lower classes, by 
secret and depraved practices. Now it so happens that William is 
looked upon by the faculty as a boy of irreproachable character, 
a model in every sense. After a few days' reflection, the tutor in- 
forms James that it is his duty to denounce the depraved student 
to the college authorities. This James stoutly refuses to do. He 
cannot bring himself to squeal and be looked upon as an informer. 
Then Charles takes the matter himself to the college faculty. An 
investigation follows and William is dismissed. 

Question. — Did Charles do the proper thing or was he still bound 
by his promise of secrecy? 

Solution. — A secretum commissum of which the above is an ex- 
ample, binds under pain of serious sin, by the very terms of the 
contract which beget an obligation in justice. Yet common sense 
and the teachings of theology tell us that under certain circum- 
stances it must always and ever be lawful to reveal certain knowl- 
edge receive under promise of secrecy. We could even go further 
and admit that the possessor of such secret knowledge may be 
bound in conscience to make it known. In the present case, we 
consider, that the circumstances are such that they make the revela- 
tion not only lawful, but they compel its manifestation. In the 


first place the danger to many innocent charges of the school, senf 
there for the upHfting purposes of a moral education, and entrusted 
by parents who would quickly remove them from such an atmos- 
phere did they know the real condition of things, makes the revela- 
tion necessary. Secondly the fact that harm had been and was 
being done to many of the pupils, imperatively called for immediate 
action, and therefore charity demanded that some way be found 
to put a quick end to the presence of so baneful an agent. No 
other way was at hand save the denunciation of the guilty party 
to the governing board of the school. This involved the breaking 
of the promise of secrecy, which in the given instance was entirely 
lawful. A third consideration would be the good name of the 
school itself. Although hidden at the time, it is absolutely certain 
that the condition of affairs would eventually become public prop- 
erty. The shock and the scandal thus produced would cause much 
detriment to the school ; might even put an end to its existence, 
as now-a-days no school could endure which had lost its reputation. 
It is clear then that the school should be protected against the 
malign influence that threatened its life, and this could only be done 
by following the course pursued by Charles. It is true that James 
was unwilling to have the knowledge he confided made use of. But 
he was unreasonably unwilling, and his attitude was justly ignored 
by the more practical and miore experienced tutor. His fear of 
being held as an informer might be classed as mawkish sentimental- 
ity, too prevalent at times in the young and more deserving of 
censure than silence. Charles did the only possible thing under the 
circumstances, and his action is not only licit, but praiseworthy. 



Case. — Ximenes was born twenty-one years ago, outside of 
wedlock. His parents gave up all claim to him the day they left 
him, a helpless babe, with a foundling asylum in charge of Sisters. 
He was reared in a charitable institution, and is now a sober, steady 
worker at his trade, ably supporting himself. He is anxious to know 
who are his parents, and how he ever came to be under the care of 
the good Sisters. To give him the requested information would be 
to make known to him the facts of his illegitimate birth and the 
evil life of his parents. 

Question. — Am I justified in refusing his request? 

Solution. — In the abstract it would seem to us that the young 
man in search of his identity has a right to the information neces- 
sary to establish that identity. The natural relations existing be- 
tween parents and child put forth a claim, as evidenced in the 
activity of Ximenes, which calls for satisfaction. We would not 
deny that he is following an instinct natural to the race, and that 
he could lay claim therefore to an instinctive right. 

But the question on the whole must be considered from another 
viewpoint, and must be decided by the influence of other condi- 
tions. Granting that fundamentally he has a certain right to the 
knowledge he persists in obtaining, would it invariably follow that 
he should be put in possession of the facts concerning his origin? 
We do not think so. We can conceive of cases, we know of some, 
where success in gathering such knowledge was not only of no 


benefit, but was eventually exceedingly harmful. A case in point 
was that of a young lady who had been adopted by an excellent 
Catholic, though childless widow. The child was brought up a 
strict Catholic and lived an exemplary life for twenty years. An 
accident led to the discovery of facts, and this so overwhelmed her 
with a sense of shame that she cursed her real mother, and despite 
the efforts of the widow, who' had a real affection for her she grew 
lax, rejected the admonitions of her confessor, and ultimately 
abandoned herself to the allurements of the forbidden path. 

This may be considered an isolated case, but such is not our 
view. At all events it has to be reckoned with. So, in the case 
before us one would have to reflect upon the harm that would 
probably come to the child of such parents, and would likewise 
have to consider the present condition and circumstances of the 
parents, not forgetting to reckon with the rights of society itself. 
In almost every case the child receives a severe shock, is broken 
in spirit by the appreciation of the "taint," and cannot shake off 
the feeling of being an outcast. Continuous brooding, then, leads 
to pernicious results. 

Again, the parents may be dead, and charity would ask that 
they be allowed to rest in peace. Or, if not dead, they have 
wantonly abandoned their child, and it could hardly be expected 
that they could exercise the wise control, the uplifting influence, 
of a good parent on their offspring. Nor can the unhappy child 
be expected to love and reverence the parent who conceived and 
abandoned it in sin. It will more likely hate its progenitors and 
repay disgrace by disgrace. Of course some may act otherwise. 
But exceptions are rarities. Society does not gain by the knowl- 
edge supplied to Illegitimates. Experience proves that In igno- 
rance of their natal conditions, such children acquire better moral 


control over themselves, and lead more useful and more contented 

Why, then, should they be told the concrete facts? We think 
that whatever right they may have it must yield to the greater good 
that is apt to follow ignorance of their illegitimacy. 



Case. — Arcadius, a young priest, was assigned one ember day by 
his pastor, who was suddenly called from home, to give a sermon 
during the triduum services to be held that evening. The work 
was gladly accepted, Arcadius saying to himself it would stand as 
a quid pro quo, in place of the fast prescribed for that day. A few 
days later, on another fast day, he settled down to a strenuous 
day's work, laboring zealously in preparing his paper for the con- 
ference, writing his sermon for Sunday, etc., with the conviction 
that his efforts of the day were sufficient to excuse him from the 
obligation of fasting. Upon the pastor's return the young priest 
acquainted him with the aforesaid facts, and was promptly told 
that the reasons set forth were not sufficient to excuse from so 
serious a law. 

Question. — Was the pastor right? 

Solution. — The obligation of fasting is a grave one, so that 
weighty and serious reasons are required to free the children of 
the Church from the binding force of this law. Such reasons 
make the law morally or physically imposible of fulfillment. Are 
the reasons alleged by Arcadius of such a nature? We do not 
think so. In the first instance, the preparation and delivery of one 
sermon, even under the given conditions of haste, etc., are usually 
not attended by such mental or physical fatigue as not to be com- 
patible with even a rigorous compliance with the demands of the 
Church in the matter of fasting. There is a strain, of course, but 
our contention is that it is only a moderate one, and does not 
cause wear and tear enough to be seriously considered a legitimate 


excuse. Besides, we are not justified in substituting what we wish 
for any definite obligation that we are apt to find irksome. How- 
ever, nothing is said in the statement of the case of the physical 
state of our young friend. If his health is not good, and this extra 
labor, even though moderate in itself, or when added to other 
labors of the day, would make it morally impossible for him to 
observe the strict fast, without injury to his weakened condition, 
or interference with his priestly duties, then, of course, his view 
of the case would be a perfectly proper one ; his reason would be 
a valid one. But we fear there is nothing of this nature in the 
case, and must decide that Arcadius was wrong and his pastor 
was right. 

In the second instance, the pastor was again in the right. The 
intense labor assumed on the fast day was not necessary for that 
day, was undertaken freely on that day in preference to other 
days, and for the sole motive of escaping the obligation of fasting 
on that day. This extraordinary labor brought no special benefit 
that could not be gained on any other day not a fast day. We 
know that the doing of corporeal or spiritual works of mercy, even 
undertaken freely on a fast day, are sufficient to relieve one of the 
obligation when found incompatible with it, because they bring a 
greater good than mere fasting. But no greater good accrues in 
this case. Arcadius would do well to mend his conscience. 



Case. — Of tne many serious duties of the confessor, that of 
deciding vocations is an extremely grave and important one. A 
young friend of mine is desirous of entering a religious community. 
He has consulted his confessor who has endeavored to dissuade him 
from doing so, persuading him on the other hand to enter the 
Seminary and there study for the secular priesthood. He has used 
the usual arguments and gone so far as to urge the aspirant's 
parents to use all their influence to this end. My friend is very 
distressed and feels inclined to yield on this point. 

Question. — Does he owe obedience to his confessor in this matter ? 

Solution. — Neither parents nor confessor have any authority to 
interfere with the known Will of God, once that Will has been duly 
manifested. If a confessor endeavors to deter a candidate from 
following the higher life, merely because of his own peculiar ideas 
on the subject, or for any other unworthy motive, he is gravely 
sinning. He is interfering with the work of the Holy Ghost and 
using unjustly his influence to put the young man in a false and 
dangerous position in life. By virtue of his office as director in the 
confessional, he is bound to give unprejudiced advice, and he sins 
against justice as well as against charity by interjecting himself 
and his opinions into so sacred a matter at so sacred a time. 
Parents are likewise sinning when they throw unnecessary obstacles 
in the way of a vocation, or for worldly reasons turn a child from 
the path marked out by almighty God through the inspiration of 
the Holy Ghost. In this case the child must obey God, not man, 
even though the man in question be father or mother. But it may 


be that the confessor is moved by a very worthy motive and not 
by any unworthy design. Perhaps after due consideration and 
much prayer for guidance, he has arrived at the conclusion that 
the young man has no vocation for the rehgious life but for the 
secular clergy. In such a case he is fully justified in assuming the 
position he has taken in urging the young aspirant to give up all 
idea of a religious vocation. This is no trifling matter. It is as 
important to put the young man in the Seminary when he is not 
called to the religious life as it is to put him in the novitiate when 
he is not called to the ranks of the secular clergy or the world. 
Where then the motive is proper and the judgment unbiassed, the 
action of the confessor is indeed praiseworthy. Let the young 
aspirant be obedient and God will not permit him to go wrong. 




Case. — Mrs. M. was entrusted with the care of two nieces who 
had as an inheritance the sum of ten thousand dollars. She was 
very fond of the younger niece, who was attractive and much 
sought by suitors. She had no affection for the older, who was 
not attractive, though good and gentle, and unsought in marriage. 
Mrs. M. finally concluded that the best place for her elder niece 
Alice was a convent. This scheme did not meet with Alice's favor 
and thereafter the homely relative was subjected to petty annoy- 
ances, which in time became persecution and made her life unbear- 
able in the home of her aunt. After a few years of patient suffer- 
ing, no longer able to bear such ill-treatment, she decided to enter 
the convent, hoping to have there a happier life than she had so 
far enjoyed. In this she was disappointed. Hence in the course 
of a few years she returned to the world. Meanv/hile her sister 
had married and received what remained of the money of Alice, 
which the married sister now refuses to return, leaving Alice penni- 
less and without a home. 

Question. — What should be done? 

Solution. — The aunt in question has certainly proved herself an 
unjust steward. She has a very grave account to settle with tl;e 
Just Judge. She undertook to be a mother to the orphans and 
failed miserably. She sinned gravely by her schemes to force her 
gentle, though homely, niece to enter the religious life against the 
inclinations and wishes of the girl. She no doubt consoled herself 
with the conclusion that she was doing great good to the luckless 
girl, unsought in the world, by compelling her to accept the re- 


ligious life — forcing her to accept the "better part." In reality she 
was doing her ward a positive injury in driving her to act against 
her will, to take up the burdens of a life for which she had no 
fitness. The lack of the qualities needed for the successful and 
peaceful life in the convent could have but one result. Alice found 
herself even more unhappy in her new life than in the old one. 
She could not but feel that she was not doing God's Will and was 
in consequence running the risk of endangering her soul's eternal 
welfare. Therefore she gave up the convent life. For this she is 
to be praised. 

Secondly, the worldly-minded aunt, for this is what she was, 
sinned against justice by the constant harassing to which she sub- 
jected a young girl, who was unable to protect or defend herself 
in her circumstances. She made the life of her niece unbearable, 
and although the vexations were in themselves petty, yet by reason 
of the relations between the tv/o and the utter friendlessness and 
dependence of the girl, they became relatively grave. A girl's 
life for the most part is spent at home and she has a strict claim 
to proper treatment. A violation of this right may be a grave in- 
justice and in the present case does constitute a serious fracture of 
the virtue of justice, since it forced the girl in question to leave 
what should have been her home, and compelled her to seek refuge 
in a convent where she was absolutely out of place. The liberty of 
Alice was interfered with in the choice of a vocation. This, indeed, 
is a serious matter. The Church demands postive freedom for all 
on this important point and to secure it she has placed heavy 
penalties on all who break so weighty a law. If the convent in 
question were one where solemn vows were taken, then this faithless 
aunt would incur the sentence of excommunication as inflicted by 
the Council of Trent. Now as to the conduct of the sister of 


Alice, we must say it is indefensible. She has no right to the money 
— never had any right to it; she sins in keeping it, and, of course, 
is bound to restitution. She sins again in not helping her sister 
who is penniless and homeless. She cannot be absolved until she 
does her duty by the maltreated and defrauded Alice. 



Case. — Hildegard, a professed lay-sister of an Order whose lay- 
sisters take simple but perpetual vows, desired to make to one of the 
servants a small present as a token of appreciation. Since the 
Mother Superior would neither give, nor allow, anything for this 
purpose, Sister Hildegard, without the Superior's knowledge, asked 
a woman friend for five dollars, pretending that she wanted it for 
a pious object. The friend made her a present of this amount, for 
her free use, and Hildegard in turn gave it to the servant, without 
the knowledge, and against the will, of her Superior. 

Question. — To what extent has Sister Hildegard transgressed the 
vow of poverty? The matter of giving scandal, of disobedience, 
etc., in an act of this kind, is not taken into consideration here, but 
merely the violation of the vow of poverty, and relatively of justice, 
in the case. 

Solution. — 1. Through the Votum simplex paupertatis, as distinct 
from the solemn vow of poverty, Hildegard neither lost the domi- 
nium radicale suorum bonorum, nor the ability to acquire for herself 
temporal goods (bona temporalia pretio aestimabilia) , but she had 
renounced all independent use of such goods, and all free and volun- 
tary disposition of temporal possessions as a grave obligation {sub 
gravi). Hence Miiller {Theol. Moral., 1, //, 216) holds: "Votum 
igitur solemne quemlibet actum proprietatis non tantum illicitum sed 
et simul invalidum reddit, votum simplex ilium tantum illicitum, non 
invalidum facit." The same views are expressed by Marc, and other 
authorities who deal with the difference between solemn and simple 


vows. The acceptance of the gift by Sister Hildegard, asked for 
and received without permission, even against the wish of the Supe- 
rior, was, therefore, vaHd but ilHcit, Cardinal Gousset writes: "A 
ReHgious sins against the vow of poverty if, without permission, 
he receives money for his own use, or for use according to his in- 
tentions, even if employing it for pious ends" {Moral Theol., 540). 

2. Sister Hildegard renounces this property by presenting the 
money to the servant, acting again without either the expressed or 
presumed permission of her Superior, another action manifestly 
against the vow of poverty. But is this not also stealing money 
from the convent? The canonical principle: Quidquid monachus 
acquirit, non sihi, sed monasterio acquirit, would seem to decide that 
the gift acquired by Hildegard became the property of the convent, 
and that her unauthorized disposition thus deprived the convent. 
This view must be rejected, how^ever, because in the case of Religi- 
ous of simple vows the principle quoted does not cover all possible 
manners of acquiring property, as is the case with solemn vows, but 
extends merely to the special work which such Religious practice as 
members of the community, as is apparent from the form of the 
profession. In regards to purely personal gifts this principle does 
not therefore apply in the case of simple vows of poverty. (See 
Gury II, n. 162 [9], and others.) In our case the justitia comniu- 
tativa was not violated ; the servant, though she sinned, if acting 
mala fide, by cooperating in transgressing the vow, still acquired 
possession of the money lawfully, and for this reason is not obliged 
to restitution. 

3. Another question is whether the amount of five dollars forms 
a materia gravis contra "i'Dtmn, and hence whether Hildegard sinned 
grievously ? 

Moralists generally agree that the same amount that constitutes 


a grave sin against justice is to be considered materia gravis when a 
Religious violates the vow of poverty. In a case of theft, five dol- 
lars would not be a sum sufficient in every case to inflict a grave 
injury on the loser {materia absolute gravis). In the present in- 
stance, Sister Hildegard did not take the money from the Monastery, 
and consequently, even though the Monastery were very poor, there 
cannot be question of materia relative gravis. Furthermore, since 
she received the money for the benefit of another, her act of pro- 
prietorship was much less than it would have been had she taken 
the five dollars for her own personal use. Hence we consider that 
her sin against holy poverty was not mortal. 

4. Finally, if Hildegard had merely begged her friend to give five 
dollars to the said servant, and the latter had presented the money 
herself, then there would have been no actus proprietatis, and, 
therefore, no violation of the vow of poverty, though the nun's 
presumption and disobedience would call for censure. 



Case. — Anthony had made his solemn profession as a lay brother 
of a religious Order, having taken simple vows three years before, 
upon completing his novitiate. At that time he gave evidence of be- 
ing quite scrupulous, otherwise he was perfectly satisfactory. Soon 
however he began to suffer so severely from melancholy that he had 
to be placed in an insane asylum. After two years in that institution 
the officials declared him in condition to leave, but warned against 
his resuming the religious life. Anthony now petitioned the Ordi- 
nary to obtain for him a dispensation from the vows, asserting that 
he made his profession unwillingly, and that ever since he had 
been troubled with great scruples. He could not possibly stay in 
the Order. It was ascertained, moreover, that both his father and 
his sister had died as inmates of an insane asylum. 

The Ordinary made application to the Holy See, submitting full 
details of the case, stating also that Anthony had correctly made 
his solemn vows, and had testified in writing that he was acting 
without compulsion, and fully conscious of what he was doing. 
Nevertheless, he may have been suffering even then from a hered- 
itary taint of insanity; it was stated, also, that the physicians feared 
that he would again incur his melancholy if he returned to the 

Question. — May solemn vows be dispensed? 

Solution. — Solemn vows may be dispensed, but the dispensation 
is reserved to the Holy See. Infirm health is considered a sufficient 
reason for granting the dispensation from simple vows. A graver 
reason is required to dispense from solemn than from simple vows. 


But if the nature of an infirmity were very serious, it might consti- 
tute the very grave cause that is required for a dispensation from 
solemn vows. In the present case the S. Congr. Inquisitionis, by 
virtue of papal authority, granted to the Ordinary power to dispense 
the lay brother from his solemn vows, so that he could enter the 
married state, with a Catholic, lawfully and validly. The condition 
was imposed that in case his wife died before him a second marriage 
was prohibited; he was to be informed also that every violation of 
chastity, outside of marriage, would be a sin at the same time against 
the vow of chastity. 

As special penance the Bishop was to impose upon him for life 
(1) to say the rosary of five decades at least once a week; (2) to 
approach the sacraments at least five times a year, at Christmas, 
Easter, Pentecost, the Assumption B. V. M., and All Saints; (3) 
to fast strictly on two days of his own selection, once in honor of 
the Immaculate Conception, and once in honor of St. Joseph. 



Case. — Father Marcellus is perplexed about the validity of a 
Baptism he administered. Owing to the endings of the different 
names of the child, each of which ended in a, Marcellus thinks he 
said: "Baptiza" instead of Baptizo. 

Question. — Must the Baptism be repeated? 

Solution. — We note that Marcellus thinks he changed the form 
of Baptism. That surely does not invalidate the Baptism. Before 
there can be any question involving a repetition of this necessary 
Sacrament there must be a more reasonable foundation for , the 
doubt than a mere think so. Theologians are agreed that a mere 
negative doubt is not sufficient to warrant an iteration of a Sacra- 
ment. It is not lawful to repeat a Sacrament even conditionally 
under the circumstances, for such a doubt is held to be omnino im- 
prudens atque inane and hence the reconference of a Sacrament 
would make the minister guilty of a mortal sin. But suppose that 
de facto Marcellus did use the form quoted above, would that 
invalidate the Baptism? Here again we must answer in the negative. 
For a form is invalid only when there is a substantial change affect- 
ing it. Now a substantial change is had when the words have a 
sense different from that intended by Christ (cf. Noldin, vol. iii, 
par. 15), nor is it necessary that they should have ex se the signifi- 
cation intended by Christ, but it suffices that from the manner in 
which they are uttered hie et nunc they impress that sense on those 
who hear them (Noldin, ibid.). 

As to the form used above it is evident that the supposed mo- 
dification would not affect it substantially. It is quite clear, too, 
that the sense of the word as impressed upon those assisting at the 


Baptism, was no other than the sense which Christ wished to be 
conveyed by the use of the Baptismal formula. It must be said, 
then that the Sacrament conferred as indicated by "Marcellus" 
was validly administered and cannot even conditionally be reiter- 
ated. Moreover, we have a decision from Rome declaring the 
validity of a Baptism given with the form: "Baptizo te in nomine 
Patrio, et Filio, et Spiritu Sancta/' Our only advice, then, would 
be to exercise greater care in future. 



Case. — The Protestant Titus, whose wife is Catholic, comes to 
the Catholic priest to ask if he will baptize his first-born; remark- 
ingf. by the way, that the godfather will be a Protestant friend. 
Upon being told by the priest that the Catholic Church does not 
permit non-Catholic sponsors, Titus replies that unfortunately it 
cannot be helped in this case. The promise has already been given 
and he could not afford to offend the sponsor as the latter was 
fairly well to do, and could later on be of substantial assistance to 
his child. The priest knows well that if he insists on refusing the 
Protestant sponsor, the Protestant father will have the child baptized 
by his minister, and therefore he performs the Baptism with the 
non-Catholic sponsor in order to make sure of the child's Catholic 
baptism, and, no doubt, he acts correctly on his part. 

Question. — What may the priest do, so that, despite this irregular 
sponsorship, he may not break the canonical rules? 

Solution. — The way out of this difficulty is to let the Protestant 
sponsor act merely as a witness to the Baptism, as honorary sponsor, 
but not as real sponsor. In our case this is no doubt allowable, 
and is not in opposition to the decree of the Holy Office, of May 
3rd, 1893, which decrees that Baptism should rather be administered 
without any sponsors if otherwise a non-Catholic godfather is un- 
avoidable, meaning a sponsorship in the Catholic sense. Since, now, 
a merely honorary sponsorship is a purely external thing, without 
any of the obligations towards the child, it is certainly allowed, 
even if the person is non-Catholic, in a case of necessity. Of course 


the Protestant sponsor, be it distinctly understood, must not perform 
any of the functions of a Catholic sponsor, such as making the act 
of faith or holding the infant during the ceremony; this should 
be done by some one else present, the nurse for instance, or the 
sexton. The Protestant may be told that as a Protestant he will 
not be expected to affirm the Catholic creed. The non-Catholic 
honorary sponsor is to be entered upon the books merely as witness, 
not as sponsor. 



Case. — To the pastor of a city parish there came a young Jewess 
who asked for Baptism and admission to the CathoHc Church. The 
young woman was known to the pastor as a teacher in a pubhc 
school, and he was aware that she enjoyed an excellent reputation. 
The young woman said frankly that the chief reason for her step 
was the antagonism she met with on account of her being a Jewess, 
and by becoming a Christian she expected to be advanced more 
rapidly in position. The pastor was much displeased at learning 
of her worldly motive for desiring the Sacrament of Baptism. He 
did not hesitate to express his opinion, adding that he did not con- 
sider himself justified to admit her to the Catholic Church unless 
she came with a purer intention. As a result of the conversation 
the young woman was not baptized and remained a Jewess. 

Question. — It is asked now, was the pastor correct in his action? 
Interest is added to the case by the fact that other worldly motives, 
such as marriage, enter sometimes into conversions. 

Solution. — Our case is one of Baptism of an adult. Adults can 
be admitted to Baptism only if they apply properly prepared, induced 
by proper motives, and of their own free will. Hence the Rituale 
Romanum prescribes "Si quis adultus sit baptizandus, debet prius 
secundum apostolicam regulam in Christiana fide ac Sanctis moribus 
diligenter instrui et per aliquot dies in operibus pietatis exerceri 
eiusque voluntas et propositum saepius explorari et nonnisi sciens 
et volens probeque instructus baptizari." The most important con- 
dition for the validity of Baptism is, therefore, on the part of the 
adult candidate, the intention to receive the Sacrament. The purity 


of the intention, however, is not included in the condition, therefore 
if some one is moved for the reception of Baptism also by secondary, 
worldly purposes, the Baptism is on that account not invalid. 

Regarding the licitness, however, it is to be observed that St. 
Augustine in his book De Fide et Operibus (c. 6) writes: "Ad per- 
cipiendum baptismum non sic admittendi homines, ut nulla ibi vigilet 
diligentia, ne sanctum canibus detur." Hence Benedict XIV., in his 
Constitutio Postremo mense (a. 1747. n. 41) cautions: "magna hie 
vero diligentia opus est, experientia edocente, Hebraeos seu mulieres 
seu puellas matrimonii causa, quod nimirum christianum aliquem 
depereant : mares autem christianae fidei desiderium affectare, quod 
matrimonii iam contracti laqueos declinare copiunt et uxorem He- 
braeam relinquere." In such cases, and whenever the reception of 
Baptism is plainly regarded as a business matter, the application 
would have to be denied. If, however, a Jew has the honest inten- 
tion to be baptized, though as a secondary motive he sees in it a 
worldly advantage, such a one should without any difficulty be ad- 
mitted to Baptism, because a great spiritual benefit is thus bestowed 
upon him as also on his posterity. The benefit to himself results 
from the fact that he receives the one Sacrament without which no can be saved ; he is admitted to the Church out of which there 
is no salvation; and in his last hours he will receive the Sacraments 
and thus be saved, whereas in the Jewish religion he would die in 
his sins, without the Sacraments. The benefit to his posterity is 
obviously the fact that his children will be raised in the true re- 
ligion, whereas otherwise they would be raised as Jews. This is 
exactly the reason why even Pope Gregory the Great did not hesi- 
tate to make the Jews more willing for conversion by holding in 
view worldly benefits, because even if these Jews did not become 
Catholics with an entirely pure intention, it was to be remembered 


that their descendants, raised in the Christian faith, might be an 
honor to the Church : "Aut ipsos aut eorum fiHos lucramur," the 
great Pope writes in his letter, ad Cyprianum Diaconum (Gregor. 
M. epist. V. 8). "Pervenit ad me, esse Hebraeos in possessionibus 
nostris, qui converti ad Deum nullatenus volunt. Sed videtur mihi, 
ut per omnes possessiones, in quibus ipsi Hebraei esse noscuntur, 
epistolas transmittere debeas, eis ex me specialiter promittens quod 
quicumque ad verum Dominum Deum nostrum Jesum Christum ex 
eis conversus fuerit, onus possessionis eius ex aliqua parte immi- 
nuetur. Quod ita quoque fieri volo, ut si quis ex eis conversus 
fuerit, si sohdi pensionem habet, tremissis ei relaxari debeat; si 
tres vel quatuor, unus solidus relaxetur. Si quid amplius, iam iuxta 
eumdem modum debet relaxatio fieri, vel certe iuxta quod Dilectio 
tua praevidet : ut et ei qui convertitur, onus relevetur et ecclesiastica 
utilitas non gravi dispendio prematur. Nee hoc inutiliter facimus, 
si pro levandis pensionum oneribus, eos ad Christi gratiam perdu- 
camus ; quia et si ipsi minus fideliter veniunt, hi tamen qui de eis 
nati fuerint, iam fideliiis haptizantur. Aut ipsos ergo aut eorum 
filios lucramar. Et ideo non est grave, quidquid de pensione pro 
Christo dimittimus . . ." If it is allowed, therefore, according to 
Pope Gregory, to induce some one through the prospect of worldly 
benefits to accept the Christian faith, it is even more permissible to 
baptize an adult who of her own free will demands Baptism, even 
though she has the expectation to be advanced in her worldly posi- 
tion. It would be unwise to refuse Baptism to one who comes with 
an intention not entirely pure, because even if this convert may not 
become a zealous Catholic, at least all his descendants will be won 
for the Church. The answer to the question asked follows from 
these considerations. 



Case. — Sylvia, an infant who appeared to be at the point of death, 
was baptized hurriedly by her mother, Camilla. In after-years 
mother and daughter often spoke together about this Baptism and 
gradually they became convinced that it had not been administered 
validly. They mentioned the matter to Sergius, their pastor, and 
were by him admonished to put the matter from their thoughts, 
as he felt 'Satisfied that the Baptism was valid. But they continued 
to importune him to repeat the Baptism, and as he saw the matter 
was preying seriously on their minds, he finally consented to baptize 
Sylvia suh conditione. 

Question. — 1. Can the sacrament of Baptism be repeated without 
sacrilege ? 

2. Are there any penalties decreed against Rebaptizers? 

Z. Did Sergius act rightly in yielding to the request of Sylvia and 
Camilla ? 

Solution. — 1. In the Tridentine Profession of faith it is stated 
that Baptism, Confirmation and Orders cannot be reiterated with- 
out sacrilege. These sacraments imprint an indelible character on 
the soul, and consequently when they have been once rightly ad- 
ministered, their further valid reception becomes impossible. The 
attempt to confer or to partake of them anew would be nothing but 
a hollow mockery on the part of minister and recipient. The 
case is different when one of these sacraments has been administered 
invalidly; for when a sacrament has not been really received, there 
can be no question of reiteration. Indeed, since Baptism is neces- 
sary for salvation, it not only may, but must be, repeated whenever 
a previous Baptism was either certainly or probably invalid. In the 


former case the Baptism should be reconf erred absolutely, in the 
latter case, conditionally (S. C. P. F., 17 Apr., 1777). 

A Baptism is to be considered as probably invalid when there is 
real reason for doubting whether some essential requisite of the 
sacrament was wanting, e.g., when doubtful matter or form has 
been used. If anxiety arises that is not supported by any good rea- 
son, as happens with scrupulous persons whose vain fears make 
them uncertain about their actions and intentions, it should be dis- 
missed from the mind as unworthy of attention. Only doubts that 
are objective and well founded ought to be considered. To repeat 
Baptism, Confirmation or Holy Orders, even conditionally, because 
of doubts that are plainly insufficient, would be a sacrilege for the 
same reason that an absolute iteration is a profanation of sacred 

It may happen, though, that a ratio dnhitandi, while real, is yet 
very slight. Such a doubt does not impose itself on the judgment 
of a prudent man, yet is he not obliged to reject it, especially in a 
matter of such vital import as the validity of Baptism. Hence some 
grave authorities hold that a troublesome scruple of which the con- 
science cannot rid itself, provided it be not altogether unreasonable, 
is a sufficient reason for repeating suh conditione a necessary sacra- 
ment such as Baptism. 

2. Formerly one who solemnly and publicly rebaptized, and also 
the person who knowingly submitted to rebaptism, incurred irre- 
gularity, which prevented the reception of higher orders. But this 
irregularity has been abolished. In the list of irregularities given 
in the new Codex this one does not appear, and hence according 
to the general principles of the Codex it must be considered as 

3. Sergius was not justified in baptizing Sylvia, if he did so 


merely to gratify a whim indulged by her and her mother. If he 
felt no doubt about the first Baptism, his duty was plain. The de- 
sire to please or even to relieve distress would not justify him in 
carrying out a farcical simulation of the sacrament or in attempting 
to baptize one who to his knowledge was already baptized. 

However, the persistent fears of Camilla and Sylvia about a Bap- 
tism administered hurriedly and under circumstances that might 
easily lead to error leave some room for doubt. If Sergius, on 
second thought, decided that their reasons, although slight, were 
not clearly absurd, he could, with a clear conscience, repeat the 
Baptism, although, of course, he was not obliged to do so. Whether 
he was guilty of sacrilege, then, will depend on whether he acted 
in bona fide or in mala fide. 



Case. — Sabinus, a middle-aged man, has never been confirmed. 
He neglected this in his younger days, and now, although Augustus, 
his pastor, has several times invited him to receive the sacrament, 
he has always absented himself on the day when Confirmation 
was administered. He feels that to receive Confirmation at his age 
will be regarded as a sign of inferiority and will expose him to 
ridicule. Finally in confession he is told by Augustus that these 
dispositions amount to contempt of the sacrament, and he is dis- 
missed without absolution. 

Question. — 1. Is there an obligation of receiving Confirmation? 

2. Did Augustus act rightly? 

Solution. — 1. We must distinguish between an obligation per se 
and an obligation per accidens. The former exists when a certain 
thing is obligatory because it is an indispensable means of salvation 
(necessitas medii), e.g.. Baptism; or because it has been commanded 
{necessitas praecepti), e.g., assistance at Mass on Sundays. An 
obligation exists per accidens when duty arises not from any such 
intrinsic reasons as the foregoing but from reasons that are extrinsic, 
e.g., when the neglect of some means, which in itself is conducive 
but not necessary to salvation, would cause spiritual injury to one's 
self or others. 

It is certain that per accidens a person may be held, and even 
gravely, to the reception of Confirmation. Thus one v/ho felt an 
especial need of the graces of this sacram^ent on account of his own 
weakness or the perilous times in which he lived could not be ex- 
cused from sin if he wilfully neglected the opportunity to receive it. 


He would be wanting in the duty of charity to self which requires 
that we do not endanger our own salvation. Of course, if such a 
one had recourse to prayer or other means of guarding against his 
spiritual dangers, his presumption would be less and the neglect of 
Confirmation would probably not exceed a venial sin. Another in- 
stance in which Confirmation would be obligatory per accidens 
arises when the refusal to be confirmed causes great scandal or 
savors of contempt of sacred things. 

All theologians agree that apart from these cases of accidental 
obligation there does exist some obligation per se to receive Con- 
firmation. They are very much divided, however, as to the man- 
ner in which the obligation binds, whether gravely, or lightly. Cer- 
tainly Christ did not make Confirmation an indispensable requisite 
for salvation (necessaruim necessitate medii), but from the very 
fact that He instituted it as a sacrament, He also willed that it 
should be received. 

The fact of its institution as a sacrament does not prove, how- 
ever, that Christ commanded the reception of Confirmation as a 
grave obligation. For though all the sacraments are necessary, 
not all are necessary in the same degree. Some are so necessary 
that without them salvation is impossible (necessaria ad esse), others 
are so necessary that without them salvation is less easily attained 
(necessaria ad melius esse). Further it is not certain that the posi- 
tive law makes the reception of Confirmation a grave duty. It is 
true that Pope Benedict XIV. bays in the Bull Etsi Pastoralis : "Ma- 
nendi sunt [qui non sunt confirmati] ah Ordinariis locorum, eos 
gravis peccati reatu teneri, si cum possunt ad Confirmationem acce- 
dere, illam renuunt ac negJigunt." But this Bull dealt with the case 
of certain Greeks who would not receive Confirmation because they 
obstinately refused to acknowledge as invalid the Confirmation they 


had received from their priests. For them the reception of Con- 
firmation was a grave duty per accidens, in order that they might 
retract their errors and repair the scandal they had given. It does 
not follow, then, from the above words that the faithful are obliged 
per se and sub gravi to receive Confirmation. 

2. Augustus acted rightly when he earnestly endeavored to per- 
suade Sabinus to approach Confirmation, for it is the desire of the 
Church that all her children be brought to the spiritual maturity this 
sacrament confers. But his later action in refusing absolution was 
imprudent, if not unjust. For although the reasons that Sabinus 
gave for his neglect of the sacrament were foolish, they did not 
show that he was acting from contempt. Augustus should have 
considered that the view that Confirmation is virtually contemned 
when a favorable occasion to receive it is neglected, is far less prob- 
able than the opposite opinion, which holds that neglect of Confir- 
mation is to be considered as contempt only when it is intended as 
a mark of disregard and disrespect. In any case it would have been 
the part of prudence to leave Sabinus in bona fide so long as no 
good result could have been foreseen from admonishing him about 
his duty. 



Case. — Father Gilbert, at a Confirmation in his parish, acted as 
one of the sponsors for the bpys, while a sister of the parish 
school exercised the same office for the girls. On another occasion 
he asked parents to stand as sponsors for their own children. 

1. Does the Church allow nuns to be sponsors for children in 
their reception of Confirmation? 

2. Are parents allowed to be sponsors for this Sacrament? 

3. Are priests permitted to act in this capacity? 

Solution. — 1. The Church has enacted a law whereby Religious 
{stride dicti) are forbidden to act as sponsors either for the Sacra- 
ment of Baptism or of Confirmation. The reason for this is clear. 
The Church has always looked upon the obligation of a sponsor as 
a real and a sacred one. She commands under pain of sin that 
sponsors be had for both these Sacraments and she desires that the 
faithful be instructed as to the meaning and duties of this position. 
Moreover, she wishes them to realize that sponsorship is no mere 
matter of form. Hence she seeks to admit only those who can 
properly and conscientiously fulfill the duties of this relationship. 
Now Religious, at least those who have taken solemn vows, cannot 
live up to the obligations demanded of sponsors. They are no 
longer masters of their own time or will and the duties of com- 
munity life absolutely interfere with the fulfillment of the duties 
of sponsors. Hence the Church wisely declares that she will not 
accept such Religious as god-parents, even for Confirmation. Mem- 
bers of religious Orders who are not bound by solemn vows are not 


affected by the letter of this law; they are, however, by its spirit; 
for the selfsame reason operates in their case, as in the case of the 
religious of the solemn vow. While this view would hold true as 
a general rule, yet circumstances might arise which would make 
an exception advisable or even necessary. Where no other sponsors 
could be had then Nuns of the simple vow, as, for instance, Sisters 
of Charity, or Dominican or Franciscan Sisters, could legitimately 
be used as god-parents. Such was the tenor of the decision of the 
Sacred Congregation of Rites, February 15, 1887. 

Again, if a religious is to be confirmed, then, indeed, a fellow 
religious may and should be selected as a sponsor, for in this case 
the purpose of the Church in requiring sponsors can be better real- 
ized by a religious than by one who is not. So that, absolutely 
speaking, when necessity requires it, a Nun (positis ponendis) may 
act as a god-parent. 

2. Parents may act as god-parents for their own children when 
there is no one else to assume this role. However they are not 
sponsors in the legal sense of the term, but only act the part 
materialiter, by assisting the priest to carry out the ceremonies. 
Hence the Holy Office decided (Sept. 15, 1869), that spiritual rela- 
tionship was not produced by such sponsorship. 

3. Priests are permitted to become sponsors except when they 
administer the Sacrament. In this latter case they are strictly for- 
bidden to assume the role of sponsor. This was manifested by the 
decree of the Congregation of the Propaganda, September 21, 1843. 



Case. — The priest Titus is opposed to alcoholic beverages, and 
for this reason strives to take as little wine as possible in the celebra- 
tion of Holy Mass. At the offertory he uses so little that the pre- 
scribed proportion of wine and water is barely preserved; then he 
takes only a few drops for the purificafio calicis and the ablutio 
digitorum. One day he comes upon an advertisement offering a 
non-alcoholic wine. The genuineness of the wine and the absolute 
absence of alcohol are guaranteed by the advertiser. Titus now 
rejoices that he has found the right thing, and in future he is going 
to celebrate only with non-alcoholic wine. 

Question. — Is this permissible? 

Solution. — Before replying to this question we should first of all 
subject the past practice of this priest to objective criticism. The 
rubrics of the Missal (VII. 4) say plainly ... "ponit vinum in 
calicem. Deinde . . . infundens parum aquae in calicem." With 
these words a certain proportion of wine and water is indicated, of 
water there must be less than of wine. "Si ei (sc. vino) admixtian 
fantum aquae, ut vinum sit corruptum: non conficitur Sacramentuni" 
{de defcctibus IV, I). The authors endeavor to determine absolutely 
the quantity of water and wine, thus to give a more definite expres- 
sion to the prescribed proportion. St. Alphonsus says, in his book 
on the ceremonies of Holy Mass : "Deinde tenens calicem parum 
pendentem vinum in quantitate convenienti, id est quantum una 
haustu sumi potest, ex parte inclinafa calici immittit." Similarly 
writes De Herdt {S. L. Praxis I. n. 226), and others. Thus it is 
established that not a great quantity of wine is requisite for celebra- 


tion. To the wine then must be added a very small quantity of 
water. " Eucharistiae Sacramentum, cuius materia est panis tri- 
ticeus et vinum de vite, cui ante consecrationem aqua modicissima 
admisceri debet/' it is stated in the Decretum pro Armenis of the 
Council of Florence (Denzinger, Enchiridion, n. 593). Similarly 
the Provincial Council of Vienna prescribed : "In aqua admiscenda 
sollicite caveatur, ut permodica sit et vini naturam immutando plane 
impar" {tit. III. c. V.). Lehmkuhl {Theol. Mor. II. n. 121) describes 
this small quantity with the words : "una alterave gutta." C. Marc 
{Instit. Mor. n. 1524) holds that one drop sufilices, "modo sit sensi- 
bilis." In support of this opinion there is quoted a passage of St. 
Thomas, in his Summa Theol. (3 qu. 74. a. 8) : "Sufficit ad sacramenti 
huius significationem, quod sentiatur aqua, cum apponitur vino; non 
autem oportet quod sit sensibilis post mixtionem." Since according 
to the authorities {cf. S. Alphonsus, Theol. Mor. L. VI to. 3, n. 210) 
one eighth, and if the wine is strong even one fifth, may be water, 
it is plain that if but little water is taken, a very small measure of 
wine is required for the consecration. Hence it is simple to carry 
out that which the authors indicate with the words : "Quantum uno 
haustu sumi potest." 

Regarding the amount of wine to be used at the purificatio calicis, 
St. Alphonsus says (/. c, p. 114) : "Tantum vini infundere faciat, 
quantum fuit consecratum." De Herdt is again in perfect accord 
with this. At the ablutio digitorum one takes usually the same 
amount of liquid ; since here more water than wine must be taken 
("major autem semper quantitas aquae quam vini accipienda est" 
de Herdt, I. n. 270), a small quantity of wine, a few drops, will 

If all this is observed, then the entire quantity of wine used at a 
Holy Mass is so small that an injurious influence upon the health 


is under normal conditions certainly not to be thought of. Regard- 
ing the validity of the Masses hitherto said by the priest Titus, only 
an actual investigation of the materia vini used can give us informa- 
tion. He surely has not used for celebrating Mass an aged and 
strong vintage. If the wine be weak, then, according to the authori- 
ties (Lehmkuhl, /. c), "cavendum est, ne nimia aquae copia affun- 
datur, maxime si vinum est debile; nam usque ad tertiam partem 
aquam admiscere, duhiam redder e potest materiam consecrationis/* 
The admixture of a third part water to the wine makes it a materia 
dubia; indeed, in the opinion of many persons (''secundum humanam 
aestimationem et usiim") this would no longer be considered wine. 
Though we may, nevertheless, accept this materia as valida, and thus 
presume the validity of the Masses said, there can be no question 
that this materia dubia is illicita, because, as every book on moral 
theology teaches, when it is a question of the validity of a sacrament, 
one may not without compelling cause, such as extreme need, ever 
make use of a materia dubia. Tutius eligendum est. Considered 
objectively, therefore, the practice of Titus has been wrong and 

Will the modern invention of non-alcoholic wines now help him 
to escape his difficulty ? According to Haine Theol. Mor. Elem. III. 
p. 26) the sacrificial wine must have the following qualities: (a) 
de necessitate sacramenti debet esse 1. vinum de vite, 2. usuale i. e. 
potabile, 3. in sua specie incorruptum; (b) de necessitate praecepti 
debet esse 1. purum, 2. mundum, 3. non congelatum, 4. non quod 
coeperit acescere vel corrumpi vel fuerit aliquantulum acre, 5. cum 
modica aqua mixtum. That the wine must be good is expressly 
directed by the Provincial Council of Vienna, which says : "Intolera- 
hUe esset, si ad tantum mysterimn adhiberetur vinum, quod convivis 
apponere ecclesiae rectorem puderet." Hence a good wine must be 


employed in offering up the Holy Mass, and, furthermore, it must 
be genuine. ^'Quamdiu secundum humanam aestimationem et usuni 
panis et vinum substantialiter incorrupta sunt, manent materia 
valida; si certo corrupta sunt, invalida evadunt, si dubie, materia erit 
dubia" (Lehmkuhl Theol. Mor. II. n. 118), Now is a non-alcoholic 
wine secundum humanam aestimationem et usum a genuine wine, a 
materia incorrupta? 

Non-alcoholic wine is the product of an artificial procedure, not 
the product of natural fermentation. The fresh grape juice is 
brought to a high temperature, so that the albuminous matter is 
expelled, this clarifies the juice and it is made to keep in good 
condition by subsequent sterilization. This sterilized juice is then 
poured into sterilized bottles, and is then known in commerce as 
non-alcoholic wine. It keeps well as long as the bottles remain 
unopened, and it actually contains not a trace of alcohol, all fermen- 
tation having been prevented. This wine, therefore, is not produced 
by natural fermentation, but made artificially, and it is not the 
natural product called "wine" but an artificial wine. For the natural 
wine there is required, on the one hand, the ripe, unadulterated 
grape juice, secured from grapes in the ordinary way {vinum de 
vite modo consueto extractum), on the other hand, the natural, 
alcoholic fermentation. If through the addition of water and sugar 
the original quantity of wine is increased threefold, or even fivefold 
(as is done in some methods of making grape juice) this is a 
notabilis mutatio et permixtio alienae materiae (Lehmkuhl T. M. 
II. 119) and the wine obtained in such fashion is not materia valida. 
Nor can we consider as materia valida a Vv^ine that is not produced 
by natural fermentation, and that is utterly lacking alcohol. All 
genuine wine contains alcohol, usually 9 to 12 per cent., although 
certain heavy wines, such as Port, contain as much as 23 per cent. 


Every wine, therefore, contains a quantity of alcohol, and if its 
original percentage of alcohol is very low then the natural wine 
will not keep, and more alcohol must be added. If this takes place 
while the wine is in the making, and is done by adding spirits of 
wine (dummodo spiritus extractus fuerit ex genimine vitis) and 
increased at most to 12 per cent., then this manipulation is expressly 
permitted for altar wines (C. S. O., July 31, 1890), because there 
is not added any foreign matter to the wine. 

Alcohol belongs to the nature of wine, it is an essential constitu- 
ent thereof. Take away this constituent, and the liquid may still 
appear to many as wine, yet secundum hmna?iam aestimationem it is 
wine no longer, "non ex colore, odore et gustu dignoscitur esse vertini 
vinuvi," it is a materia certo corrupta, and hence invalida. The 
Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office replying to the question : 
"Utrum licitum sit ad S. Missae sacrificium conficiendiim uti vino 
ex musto obtento, quod ante fermentationem vinosam per evapora- 
tionem igneam condensatum estf" decreed Aug. 5, 1896: "Licere, 
dummodo decoctio hiijusmodi fermentationem alcoollcam hand ex- 
cludat, ipsaque fermentatio naturaliter obtineri possit, et de facto 
obtineatur." Non-alcoholic wine is, therefore, unfit to be used in 
saying Mass, and Titus must not make use of it. Neither is it 
necessary to do so. If he is sick, and his stomach will not take 
pure wine, then he should omit the celebration until his condition 
improves. Otherwise he should use a light wine, one of the many 
wines of small alcoholic percentage. At the offertory he should 
take very little water, so that he will need but such a small amount 
of wine that the alcohol taken is hardly worth mentioning. He 
need, then, not fear any harm to his health. 



Case. — Regina, a pious woman, is so fond of frequent Communion 
that at times she receives twice, even three times, on the same 
day, always at different churches of the town. Some people brought 
this to the attention of Father Evodius, pastor at the church where 
Regina usually receives Holy Communion first. The priest sends 
for Regina, warns her that this is not allowed, and threatens to 
withdraw from her for a certain period the right to receive, unless 
she discontinues her unlawful action. Regina in reply points out 
that priests sometimes celebrate Holy Mass more than once, as for 
instance on Christmas, and that they communicate each time. Evo- 
dius then says that the repeated celebration of Holy Mass on one 
and the same day is under certain circumstances permitted by the 
Church, and is strictly regulated, but that otherwise a repeated 
Communion on one and the same day is forbidden by the Church. 

Question. — ^What is to be said about this case? 

Solution. — 1. In the hard times of persecution the early Christians 
had a very special need of the "Bread of Angels," hence they car- 
ried it home in order to fortify themselves for the possible martyr's 
death ; this custom was not discontinued until the fifth century. It 
may thus have happened that they received in the early morning, 
during Mass, and again later in the day if threatened with death. 
Frequent, even daily, Communion was zealously practised in those 
times, as also daily celebration of Holy Mass. When, however, the 
Christian religion came under State protection conditions and cus- 
toms changed. 


2. The Holy Eucharist was confided by Christ to His Church, 
to be administered most reverentially as the sacrifice of the New 
Law and as the Communion of the faithful. That to this, her 
supreme Holy of Holies, should be shown due reverence and that 
it should be administered in a dignified manner is the task of Holy 
Church, and for this task she makes suitable laws and ordinances. 
The priests carry out the dignified administration of the Eucharist 
by conscientiously following the precepts of the Church, and a fruit- 
ful reception on the part of the faithful is to be expected if they 
obediently submit to the guidance of the Church. Any improper 
conditions must, of course, be rectified by the priest. 

3. May Holy Communion be received lawfully more than once 
on one day ? We omit here all reference to the repeated celebration 
of Holy Mass. Is there an ordinance, a positive law, which pro- 
hibits or allows the frequent reception of the Eucharist in Commu- 
nion on the same day ? 

Suarez {Disput. 69, sect. 4) writes : Dies a media node ad mediam 
noctem est computandus, as in the case of the ecclesiasticum jeju- 
niiim naturale. He then proceeds to say: Jure divino non est 
prohibitum, saepius eodem die communicare; stando in solo jure 
divino nulla est talis prohibitio, quia nee scripta est nee tradita nee 
sola ratione probari potest; ex esidem jurihus potest sumi pro- 
portionale argumentum, quia saepius eodem die sacrifieare, non est 
prohibitum jure divino; ergo nee communicare. Unde, sicut Papa 
dispensat interdum ut oliquis eodem die saepius sacrificet, ita posset 
dispensare in iterata comnvunione extra sacrificium; non est ergo 
prohibitum jure divino. 

Now Suarez considers the objection: Dices: nee singulis horis 
communicare vel etiam saepius eadem hora esset prohibitum, and 
answers : Resp. verum esse, de tota hac re positivo jure divino nihil 


esse declaratum, sed prudentiae, quam jus ipsum naturale dictat, 
relinqui, quae dictat, ea cavenda esse, quae contemptum vel irri- 
sionem sacramenti parare possunt, concluding: ideo Ecclesiastica 
prozndentia in his modum et ordinem adhibuit. 

Suarez had already before this stated: this prohibition to receive 
frequently on the same day follows ex jure humano praecipue oh 
reverentiam tanti sacramenti, ne scilicet oh nimiam frequentiam 

4. What law of the Church is there decreeing that Communion is 
allowed only once on the same day? St. Thomas speaks only of a 
Consuetudo Ecclcsiae {HI, qu. 80, art. 10) and in the fourth objec- 
tion he says : "Major esset frequentia, si homo pluries in die sume- 
ret hoc sacramentum. Ergo esset laudabile, quod homo pluries in 
die communicaret, quod tamen non hahet Ecclesiae consuetudo." 
Therefore, he does not adduce a precept of the Church further than 
the custom, practice and usage of the Church; a positive com- 
mandment, a lex ecclesiastica expressa, was not known to him. And 
in solving this objection St. Thomas produces only a mystica con- 
gruentia saying: "Ad 4. dicendum, quod quia Dominus dicit Lc. 11 : 
"Panem nostrum quotidianimi da nobis hodie," non est pluries in die 
communicandum, ut saltern per hoc, quod aliquis semel in die comr- 
municat, repraesentetur unit as passionis Christi." 

Let us hear another authority. Claud. Lacroix (I. 6, 673) asks 
and answers the question : An Licitum sit saepius una die communi- 
caref Resp. Ordinarie non est licitum, uti colligitur ex C. Sufficit 
53. De consc. d. 1. Hoc ipsum prohat praxis Ecclesiae ac usus fide- 

5. The authorities appeal as we see to Ecclesiae consuetudo, 
praxis, usus. 

What is a legitima consuetudo f 


Gratian undoubtedly gives the proper definition (c. S, d. 1) : Con- 
suetudo est jus quoddam nwribus instituturn, quod pro lege suscipi- 
tur, cum deficit lex. 

The legitima consuetudo is likely to become the law,' as not 
everything in the Church must be regulated by written law. The 
universal custom prevailing throughout the centuries in the Church, 
and the interpretation and usage of the Christian people, often have 
the authority of a written law in the Church. And where there is 
felt no need, the Church does not usually make special laws and 

6. What about permission or obligation in the case of a Chris- 
tian who has received Holy Communion, and upon the same day is 
brought by sickness or accident so near death that the Viaticum 
should be administered to him? This has been a mooted question 
on which learned theologians took opposite sides. Some held that 
it was not permissible to receive the Viaticum if one had already 
communicated that same day, as the law of the Church forbids one 
to receive Communion oftener than once a day. But this reason 
can no longer be maintained, as the Code (canon 864) declares: 
"Etiamsi eadem die S. Communione fuerint refecti, valde tamen 
suadendum ut in vitar discrimen adducti denuo communicent." 

7. While a pastor or confessor has not the right to impose a 
Church censure of excommunication, or authoritatively to declare 
that anyone has incurred such, he has at his disposal a temporary 
prohibitio for preventing and discouraging an improper treatment 
of the Blessed Sacrament ; to exercise this is not only his right, it 
is also his bounden duty. Between saying Holy Mass and receiving 
Holy Communion there is an essential difference. The celebration 
of Mass is a liturgical action executed by the priest as Christ's rep- 
resentative, in the name of the Church, and the Church can, for 


important reasons, sanction the repetition of the sacrifice; moreover, 
the Mass has an objective value and is a special operation of grace 
for all mankind, in a degree according to the intention and applica- 
tion of the celebrant. Holy Communion, however, bestows a sub- 
jective gift of grace upon the worthy recipient, though he may also 
obtain graces for others. 





Leaving out of consideration the dangerously sick, whose condi- 
tion calls for the last sacraments, we may consider of the other 
sick three classes, who can remain fasting until holy Communion 
can be given them either not at all, or only with great hardship. 
We do not include in this classification religious houses that have 
their own priest; for there the priest can give Communion soon 
after midnight, so that fasting would cause no inconvenience. We 
refer to the conditions in every-day life in which the sick must 
wait until some time in the morning to receive. 

The first class embraces patients who have received the last 
sacraments and whose condition has not appreciably bettered. 
Moralists teach unanimously that such persons may receive with- 
out fasting. But they disagree as to how often. St. Alphonsus 
accepts the communior sententia that such sick persons may receive 
once a week (even daily if they have been used to receive 
daily), and as Benedict XIV. (De Syn. Dioec. lib. 7, c. 12) bids 
the bishops to require pastors to give Communion to such sick per- 
sons iterum et tertio, and since the bishops are empowered to punish 
pastors who are insubordinate on this point, we may without danger 
of appearing lax say that such sick may receive on as many days 
as they wish, even without fasting. We go still further and say 
the confessor should, unless the patients' spiritual condition makes 
this inadvisable, urge them to receive frequently, not anxiously 
counting how many days have gone since their last Communion. 
Scruples of the patients about fasting he may remove by informing 


them that they may take whatever drugs or food are ordered for 
them. No need of asking anxiously how often they used to 
receive before their illness — in sickness persons have even more 
need than in health for Holy Communion as their spiritual food, 
nor need inquiry be made until what hour in the morning they are 
able to refrain from food or medicine. Moralists in general, and 
St. Alphonsus and Benedict XIV. in particular, speak simply of 
non jejuni without examining at what hour of the morning the 
priest should take the sacraments to the sick in order to let them 
remain fasting. All this applies to those who have received the 
last sacraments, and who are still in about the same condition. 

The second class embraces those who, on account of stomach 
or nerve trouble, or kindred ailments, are not able to remain fasting 
until the morning, although they are not grievously or dangerously 
ill. Not infrequently such persons can go about and do much 
work of mind or body, but they cannot fast without bad results. 
For such there is only one thing to do. They must make applica- 
tion to the S. R. et Universalis Inquisitio, the supreme tribunal for 
matters of faith and morals. If they present a testification utri- 
usque medici, physician arid confessor, preferably through the 
bishop, they will without difficulty receive permission to partake 
before Communion of something per modiim potiis (more about 
this further on), and according to circumstances this permission is 
granted for receiving more or less frequently. Without this per- 
mission they are, of course, not allowed to partake of anything 
before Communion. 

To the third class belong those who have been bed-ridden for a 
considerable time, but are not so ill as to call for the last sacra- 
ments, yet on the other hand can not strictly observe the command 
to fast before receiving, and about whom no certain hope exists 


that they may soon recover. For such sick persons Pope Pius X. 
has provided, in a very generous manner, by a decree of the Con- 
gregation of the Council, December 7, 1916. In a previous decree 
(December 20, 1905) the Pope exhorted the faithful to more 
frequent and even daily Communion, and required as the condition 
for this frequent reception of the sacraments only the state of 
sanctifying grace and the right intention, thus rejecting the rigor 
of Moralists and ascetics who often demand most minute precau- 
tionary measures and conditions. Referring to this decree an emi- 
nent ecclesiastic of Belgium suggested to the Congregation that if 
the wish of the Holy Father for more frequent and even daily 
Communion were to be carried out in the widest circles of the 
Church, then these sick, who often long for Holy Communion, 
should be given the same opportunity. On September 15 this mat- 
ter was laid before the Congregation and it was decided to recom- 
mend to the Holy Father that the law of the Church for such sick 
persons should be amended, so that Holy Communion might be 
given to them oftener. It was proposed that the bishops should 
be empowered to give these sick persons the privilege to receive, 
on the great feasts for instance, even after partaking of some food. 
The Holy Father went even beyond this, and thereby manifested 
again his desire to promote the frequent reception of Holy Com- 

The two passages from the decree of the Congregation of De- 
cember 7th, 1916, which are of importance here, read: quaesifum 
est, si quo forte modo consult posset aegrotis diuturno morbo labo- 
rantihus et eurcharistico Pane haud sequel confortari cupientibus, qui 
naturale jejunium in sua integritate servare nequeant; . . . 
henigne concessit (pontifex) , uf infirmi, qui jam a mense decumhe- 
rent absque certa spe ut cito convalescant, de confessarii consilio. 


Sanctissimam Eucharistimn sitmere possint semel aut bis in hebdo- 
mada, si agatur de infirmis qui degunt in piis domibus ubi Sanctis- 
simum Sacramentum adservatur, aut privilegio fruuntur celebra- 
tionis Missae in Oratorio domestico; semel vero aut bis in mense 
pro reliquis, etsi aliquid per modum potus antea stipserint. 

There is question here of sick persons who, for at least a 
calendar month, have been bedridden, and whose early recovery 
can not be expected with certainty; not of such, therefore, who 
suffer of a slight illness, but of persons seriously ill, yet not on this 
account in danger of death. It is further said absque certa spe 
ut cito convalescant; so long, therefore, as there is no moral certain- 
ty (such as the opinion of the attending physician would give) that 
the patient will soon, perhaps in a week, recover his strength suffi- 
ciently to get out of bed, the patient has a right to the benefit of 
the decree, and may receive Communion even after having par- 
taken of food or drink. The word decumberent does not imply 
that the patient must steadily keep to his bed. There are diseases 
that make patients feel more comfortable if they use an armchair. 
The decree concerns the sick who cannot remain fasting (until 
morning, as explained under 1 and 2). Those sick who can remain 
fasting without any particular detriment must not partake of any- 
thing before receiving, and they are strictly bound by the ecclesias- 
tical law. The sick considered under 2 do not belong here, for 
while of them it may be said that a speedy recovery cannot be 
looked for, yet it cannot be said that they are decumbentes. They 
must therefore make their appeal to the Inquisition at Rome. 

The decree distinguishes two classes of such sick persons; first 
of all those who sojourn in piis domibus; by these are meant the 
inmates of convents, of schools kept by Religious, hospitals, semi- 
naries, etc., having their own chapel, where the Blessed Sacrament 


is kept, or where Mass is said. Then the decree goes on to speak 
of patients not inmates of such houses. The former may twice 
a week partake of food, per modimi pofus, before receiving, the lat- 
ter twice a month.* For both classes, however, the decree provides 
confessarii consilio. The reason for this is obvious. The Church 
has given the decision about receiving Holy Communion into the 
confessor's hands. He alone decides whether the penitent is worthy 
to receive; he alone may judge as to how often. We may translate 
the words de confessarii consilio: "with the confessor's permission." 

It is quite clear that the confessor of penitents, who according 
to the decree of December 20th, 1905, may receive twice a week, 
or twice a month, cannot prohibit them from previously taking 
food, all the more as the permission of the confessor is directly 
concerned only with the frequency of receiving holy Communion, 
and only indirectly with the partaking of food. The permission to 
receive presupposes the other permission. The Pope allows the 
previous use of food, or drink, as often as the confessor allows 
such patients to receive, to the limit of twice per week, or month. 
What must we understand by per modum potiisf The holy Inqui- 
sition explained this under September 7th, 1897, and this explana- 
tion was ratified by the Pope on September 10th, 1897 : "quando si 
dice per modum potus, s'intende bensi che si possa prendere brodo, 
caffe od altro cibo liquido, in cui sia mescolata qualche sostanza, 
come p. e. semolino, pangrattato ecc, piirche I'insieme non venga 
a perdere la natura di cibo liquido." One may therefore take broth, 
coffee, or other liquids, such as milk, tea, chocolate, and of course 

* Canon 858 of the new Code extends this privilege to once or twice a 
week. Thus after Pentecost of 1918 invalids, whether or not they reside in 
a dwelHng where the Blessed Sacrament is kept, maj', de prudenti confessarii 
consilio, receive Holy Communion even after having taken medicine or liquid 


water, and with these may be mixed solid food, as, for instance, 
cereal or bread crumbs; the whole, being boiled perhaps, provided 
it does not lose its character of liquid food, may be partaken of 
before Communion. In other words any liquid nourishment may 
be taken; this would seem to exclude alcohol. 

Finally we ask what is meant by aliquid? It means that hun- 
ger should not be fully satisfied but that the patient should be 
aided in his bodily condition to receive the Holy Eucharist with 
the requisite devotions. The contents of a coffee cup may, with 
regard to the intention of the law, not be considered too large a 
quantity. But if the doctor, or the patient's experience, require 
a larger quantity, even as much again, the confessor in our opinion 
may agree to this. Much depends upon the individual himself 
and the character of his malady. We must not identify aliquid 
with minimum. Fasting is broken by a minimum. When there- 
fore the Church suspends this command to fast in a certain case, 
and this she did by the decree of December 7th, 1906, the principle 
parum pro nihilo putatur applies. 

In conclusion it Is to be pointed out that the decree speaks only 
of Holy Communion, and not of saying Mass. The decree allows 
such patients, as above described, be they laymen or clerics, priests 
or bishops, to partake of something under certain restrictions be- 
fore receiving Holy Communion, but to say Mass non- fasting is 
a different matter. It is not to be expected that such a privilege 
will be generally decreed for saying Mass, as Rome is minded to 
insist strictkly on fasting before saying Mass. Leo XIII., when his 
physician would not let him celebrate solemn Mass toward noon, on 
his twentv-fifth papal jubilee, unless he partook of something first, 
sai3 Mass early in the morning, fasting, and then merely assisted at 
the solemn high Mass in St. Peter's, celebrated by a Cardinal. 




Case. — Father John is directed by his physician to wash out his 
stomach every morning. Father John is worried and asks : 

Questions. — 1. How long after saying Mass must I wait before 
washing out my stomach? 

2. May it be done before Mass? 

Solution. — 1. Regarding the first question there may be cited St. 
Alphonsus, who, in his Theologia M oralis {Lib. VI. n. 225) writes: 
"Cerium est apud omnes, saltern inter spatium horae species in omni- 
bus iimnutari. Bene tamen advertit Tanih. quod, juxta qualitatem 
stomachi, magis vel minus calidi aut validi, species consmnmentur. 
Caeterum, generaliter loquendo, refert Lugo, plures medicos a se 
Romae consultos putasse in laico species intra minutum corrumpi, 
et in sacerdote intra medium quadrantem: quod utrumque approbat 
Bernal apud Croix; Lmmo Arriaga ibid, ccnset, in laico consummari 
intra 5 Pater et Ave; et in sacerdote postquam vestibus est exutus. 
Saltem post quadrantem a communione, etiani in sacerdote, tenet ut 
certum Lugo, et consentit Croix quoad sanos, species consummari." 
However, modem physicians are holding a quite different view. 
There are those who declare that even in a healthy stomach the 
sacred species remain intact for half an hour, while in the case of 
certain ailments particles of the host may be found in the stomach 
even after three hours. How slowly digestion progresses in a sick 
stomach, may in our days be demonstrated by X-rays. It has been 
established that food which should normally have disappeared from 
the stomach in six hours, was still there after fully forty-eight 


hours. Therefore, a priest suffering from stomach trouble would 
have to wait, after saying Mass, for quite some time before washing 
out his stomach. The question arises then if this might be done 
before Mass, and this may be done, as we are about to show. 

2. Washing out the stomach before Mass is permissible, even if 
a little water should stay in it. As the reason Moralists state that 
at least nothing has been taken per modum potationis: "Etsi qtiis 
antlia gastrica {vulgo pompa gastric a, stomach pump) aquam in 
sfomachum traiiceret, eadem antlia earn eiecturus quia ad stomachum 
lavandum immisit, non idcirco violaretur ieiunium. Is enim nee man- 
ducat nee hihit," writes Ojetti {Synopsis Rerum Moralium II. 3. n. 
2344, p. 2158, article Ieiunium). Lehmkuhl disposes of the case by 
a brief remark, but thereby touches upon other circumstances, by 
saying : "Complures etiam censent, ieiunium eucharisticum non laedi 
ah eo, qui ope canalis stomachum lavat: cavendum tamen esse, ne 
canalis ille oleo sit inunctus" {Theologia M oralis II. p. 125). For 
this he quotes other authorities, such as Noldin, and of this author's 
work the seventh edition; in the tenth and eleventh editions, that 
appeared in the interim, Noldin has somewhat changed his opinion 
and now writes : "Qui ad eluendum stomachum ope alicuius instru- 
menti aquam sorbet et iterum reiicit, manet tamen ieiunus, etsi mo- 
dica pars aquae in stomacho remaneat, quia nihil ad modum potus 
glutiendo sumitur. Quin etiam, ut videtur, tubum instrumenti oleo 
unctum in sfomachum demittere licet, quin ieiunium solvatur" {III. 
u. 149J. In former editions, the sixth for instance, there it was 
Stated, "At non licet tubum instrumenti oleo unctum in stomachum 
demittere: sic enim vix fieri potest, quin oleum ad modum potus 
glutiatur." For the probability of the opinion that the jejunium 
naturale is not broken by washing out the stomach, Ojetti advances 
another argument. The S. C. U. I., on April 23, 1890, granted to 


a priest, with the Pope's approval, the permission ut ante missam 
uteretur antlia gastrica ad lavandmn stomachum. This permission 
was granted because only the privilege had been sought, not a the- 
oretical decision of the question. Since, however, a priest is hardly 
ever allowed to celebrate Mass non jejnnus, this permission shows 
that the S. C. U. I. considers the jejiinium naturale not violated by 
washing out the stomach. 



Case. — Father Titus, suffering from illness for many months, has 
secured the privilege of a private oratory. Twice every week a 
priest friend celebrates Mass in this oratory, and Father Titus, 
by privilege of the decree of December 7, 1906, receives Holy 
Communion without fasting. One morning, feeling stronger than 
usual, and having partaken of nourishment by "drinking" the raw 
contents of two eggs, he feels the desire to celebrate Mass himself, 
instead of only receiving Holy Communion. His friend arrives 
and, finding Father Titus in the preparation to say Mass himself, 
he dissuades with some difficulty Father Titus from his intention. 

Question: 1. Was Father Titus allowed to say Mass? 

2. Could he at least receive Holy Communion? 

Solution. — The decree of December 7, 1906, permits a sick person 
under certain conditions to receive Holy Communion even after he 
has partaken of some food per modum potiis; this permission, how- 
ever, must not be extended to the celebration of Holy Mass. Nol- 
din sets forth : "Sacerdotes hoc privilegio periculose non decumhen- 
tibus concesso, suppositis conditionihus requisitis, uti quidem possunt 
ad communicandum more laicorimi, non item ad celehrandum." 
{Summa Th. Mor. Ill", 157, e.) 

Such permission is hardly ever given. Ojetti states : "Gratiam 
celehrandi missam non ieiunis fere numquaw, solet concedere 
S. U. /." (Synopsis, IP, n. 2344, p. 2159.) 

Cardinal Gennari asks the question, Can a priest obtain from the 
Holy See the privilege to partake before Holy Mass of some food 


per modum potusf and he positively answers, "He can not. Such 
a privilege is never conceded to priests. It is sometimes given to a 
bishop, in order that he may not have to omit pontifical functions. 
The priest may, however, obtain from the Holy See permission to 
celebrate immediately after midnight." (Questions de Morale, etc. 
n. 255.) - 

2. Father Titus, after "drinking" two eggs, cannot even receive 
Holy Communion. H he cannot fast he may take some food per 
modum potus but "Non licet sorbere ovum, quia non est cibus 
liqiddus," as we find it stated by Ballerini Palmieri, who, however, 
adds "At ovum caffeo dilutum, cum vere liquescat, videtur posse 
sumi." {Opus theologicum morale, IV^, p. 730.) This is also the 
view of Cardinal Gennari, whom modem authors like to quote as 
an authority on such questions. 



Cause. — Bertha, a Catholic, employed in a large department store, 
was ordered to work three successive Saturday nights to help taking 
stock. She obeyed the order, so as not to be deprived of her bread- 
winning position. On these Saturdays she reached home after 
midnight, exhausted from the long hours and tiresome labors of the 
day. She slept then till 1 P. M. the following day, and thus did 
not hear Mass. She felt she was not obliged to be present at Mass 
on any of these three Sundays. Her confessor, to whom she made 
her monthly confession, agreed that, under the circumstances, she 
was fully excused, and that she therefore committed no sin in 
absenting herself from the Holy Sacrifice in order to get the rest 
she felt she needed. 

Questions. — Do you think the confessor's verdict was justified? 
What about her employer ? 

Solution. — Employers are bound by the laws of justice and of 
charity in dealing with those whom they employ. As Leo XHI. 
said, in his encyclical on Labor : "Working people are not the slaves 
of the employer, and it is shameful and inhimian to treat men like 
chattels for profit, or to look upon them merely as so much muscle 
or physical power." It seems to us that on this point the owner 
of the department store has grievously offended. To make any 
woman or girl work from 8 A. M. until midnight means to pay no 
heed to the fact that she is a human being. Sixteen hours of labor 
would be deemed too much even for a beast of burden, and it is 
not short of criminal when imposed upon working girls. The civil 
law itself is gradually recognizing that eight or ten hours a day 
should be the limit for all who are compelled to labor for their 


daily bread. Stock-taking may be necessary for the proper conduct 
of business, especially in large department stores, but it should be 
done in a way that aims at safeguarding the health of those who 
labor. Mere greed for the saving of money cannot outweigh the 
claims of God and of nature upon those who must earn their bread 
by the sweat of their brow. 

Again the encyclical says : "The employer must never tax his work- 
people beyond their strength, nor employ them in work unsuited 
to their sex or age." It is evident that the demands of nature re- 
ferred to by the Pope were wantonly ignored, and inexcusably so. 
No mere business method will warrant so gross a jeopardizing of 
the health of the employed. Moreover, the encyclical lays stress 
on the fact that religion is one of the concerns of the working class, 
and hence, the employer is "bound to see that the worker finds 
time for the duties of piety." It is clear that the commands of the 
employer here seriously interfered with God's claim to special 
worship on Sunday. Hence the employer is at fault. 

On the other hand, we cannot decide that Bertha's absence from 
Mass was justifiable. It may be allowed that she needed a good, 
long rest. But for this she could have taken nine consecutive hours, 
and still be present at the late Mass in the parish church. God's 
service demands sacrifice of us, and the sacrifice here would not 
have been too great. The last Mass in city churches is usually at 
eleven o'clock. That allowed ample time for a reasonable amount 
of rest before going to church, and did not prevent a further in- 
dulgence in the afternoon. The fact is that Bertha might, on these 
three Sundays, have given the remainder of the day to wholesome 
rest. She could have fulfilled her duty to her God by going to Mass 
at the cost of no too great sacrifice, and we hold she was bound in 
conscience to do so. If the last Mass in her vicinity was much 


earlier than eleven, we are inclined to think she would have been 
excused, but we see no reason justifying her absence from the 
eleven o'clock Mass. Even if Bertha could not rest in the after- 
noon, we still think that nine hours' sleep, on these exceptional 
occasions, would truly satisfy the demands of tired nature, at least 
as far as health is concerned. We think that the confessor erred 
in his lenient judgment of the case. 



Case. — Leo, the pastor of a suburban church, has during the past 
year omitted Mass very frequently. His habit is to say Mass on 
Sundays and Holidays, and not to go near the church during the 
rest of the week. His excuse is that he is only obliged to offer the 
Holy Sacrifice on Sundays ; his people are not obliged to hear Mass 
on week days; that the church is distant from the rectory (about 
10 minutes' walk) ; that he needs the rest. It so happens that the 
thriving town in which he is located has a fairly large Catholic 
population, and many of the people would be glad to avail them- 
selves of the opportunity of receiving Holy Communion daily. In 
fact the people criticise the pastor in this matter and desire a change. 

Question. — What do you think of Leo's attitude? 

Solution. — It is hardly necessary to state that a priest who has 
charge of souls must see to it that the members of his flock can 
fulfil their obligation on Sundays and feasts of precept. On this 
point no fault can be found with Leo. In doing this he likewise 
satisfies the obligation that springs from his reception of the Sacra- 
ment of Holy Orders. By reason of his priesthood every priest 
is obliged to celebrate Mass several times a year (New Code of 
Canon Law No. 805). No account is to be taken of an obligation 
ex stipendio, as no mention is made of this in the statement of the 
case. There are two points that remain for consideration : The 
first is the existence of synodal or diocesan decrees made by the 
Bishop for the government of his diocese ; the second is the custom 
in the diocese in conjunction with the needs and wishes of the 
people. There are dioceses where daily Mass is a matter of synodal 


or episcopal legislation. But evidently Leo's diocese is not one in 
this category. For we can easily presume that he would not openly 
and wantonly disobey for so long a time in a matter of such extreme 
importance. Nor would such a breach of ecclesiastical discipline 
long escape the notice of the head of the diocese, who no doubt 
would not be slow in correcting such scandalous contumacity. 
Hence Leo's action can only be judged by the second considera- 
tion — the needs of his flock. 

Without fear of contradiction we can say that where many of his 
flock are anxious for daily Mass, then he is obliged to provide it for 
them. His obligation to care for their souls does not cease auto- 
matically at noon on Sunday. Every spiritual benefit that can 
accrue from Sunday Mass can also come to the faithful on week 
days through their reverential assistance at week-day Mass. He 
is obliged to foster the spiritual life in his parishioners ; by his atti- 
tude he is neglecting this duty : he is depriving them of the immense 
spiritual advantage not only of the Mass, but of frequent Com- 
munion; he is thus doing them an irreparable harm. He is vio- 
lating the wish of the Holy Father expressed so strongly in his 
decree on daily Communion. Nor can we fail to point out the fact 
that he is depriving God of the great honor and glory given to Him 
whenever the Holy Sacrifice is offered. This alone would be suffi- 
cient to condemn his sloth fulness. Of the excuses given by him 
there is not a single one that saves him from just condemnation. 
Not a single one is worth a moment's pause when weighed against 
the harm and the scandal that must necessarily spring from an atti- 
tude so worldly and so selfish. The people are justified in their 
criticism. Their desire is legitimate, and they are entitled to de- 
mand daily Mass as the means required for the fulfilment of their 
laudable desire of daily Communion. They should seek a change 


of policy or a change of pastor. Now this does not imply that a 
priest even in such a parish is bound to say Mass every single day 
of the year. For whenever a sufficient reason operates it will ex- 
cuse. But such a reason will not be a permanent one (except in 
case of permanent disability — and then the pastor should supply 
another priest to take his place). Hence a priest, without sin of 
any kind, may omit daily Mass from time to time when grave incon- 
venience, sickness, etc., prevent. Where the reasonable custom 
exists, or the people — at least many of them — demand daily Mass, 
then no pastor can permanently omit this daily Mass without sin- 
fully neglecting his duty. We are of the opinion that Leo is guilty 
of gross neglect of duty and sins grievously against the virtue of 
charity in refusing daily Mass to those of his flock who are anxious, 
as faithful Catholics, to have it. 



Case. — Pastor Antonius is saying his second Mass on Christmas 
Day, when, after the sumptio hostiae, he suddenly faints, so that he 
has to be carried into the sacristy. There his vestments are taken 
off, he is carried to his room, and a physician is hurriedly sum- 
moned. After about half an hour he recovers consciousness, takes 
some medicine prescribed by the physician, and soon feels very 
much better. It is the physician's opinion that his collapse was due 
to a passing weakness of the stomach, and does not indicate any- 
thing serious. Meanwhile the assistant, who had already said one 
Mass, immediately upon the pastor's collapse vested and proceeded 
to the altar. He consumed the Precious Blood, finished the Mass, 
and then said his two remaining Masses. 

Question. — Quid ad casumf 

Solution. — ^According to the almost universal opinion of theolo- 
gians, Communion sub utraqiie specie, while not required for the 
essence of the holy sacrifice, which St. Alphonsus had defined as 
sententia prohahilior (L. VI. n. 305), does belong to the complete- 
ness (integritas) of the same (according to St. Alphonsus, L. III. 
n. 310 dub. 2, at least sententia valde prohahilis) . Ex jure divino 
the Mass is a sacrifice which must not only be performed in 
all its essential details, and by valid consecration of both species, 
but must also, if possible, be completed by the communion of the 
celebrant under both forms. This supposes that between an inter- 
ruption of the Mass and its resumption there exists a moral continu- 
ity in time ; for where this is lacking the continuation of the Mass, 
particularly by another priest, is not really a completion of the same 


sacrifice, but rather the beginning of another. An interruption of 
not more than an hour is generally considered to keep intact the 
continuity, because the unity of the sacrificial object is present, and, 
if the same celebrant resumes the Mass, there is the added unity of 
the priest; if more than an hour elapses, then, indeed, this moral 
unity, especially with another celebrant, is no longer certain, so 
that a strict obligation no longer exists; nevertheless, even in such 
case it is permissible to continue the Mass, according to Lehmkuhl 
(II. n. 338) etiam post plures horas, and according to Tamburini 
(St. Alphonsus L. VI. n. 355) post septem etiam horas. Since, 
furthermore, the completion of the Mass is a matter of a praeceptum 
divinum which takes precedence over the praeceptum ecclesiasticum 
jejunii, whoever continues the Mass (be he the same priest or an- 
other) need not be fasting; even an irregular, or (secretly) excom- 
municated, priest would be obliged to continue the Mass, and may, 
si deest copia confessarii, content himself with perfect contrition. 
The continuation of such a Mass by another priest counts for him, 
however, as saying a Mass, so that he may not say a second one, as 
has been distinctly set forth by the decision of the S. R. C. of De- 
cember 16, 1823 (w. 2630) . If there were not an actual celebration 
of Holy Mass, but merely the function of the missa praesanctifica- 
torum, on Gk)od Friday, the sudden indisposition on the part of the 
actual celebrant would make the continuation of the Mass, namely. 
Holy Communion, possible only when one of the assisting clerics 
is a priest and still fasting; if one of the two assistants is only a 
deacon and still fasting, and the other a priest who is not fasting, 
then the function must be discontinued, the Sacred Host replaced 
in the repository, to be consumed by the celebrant on Holy Saturday 
post sumptionem calicis (S. C. R. n. 2636). 

From these principles follows the solution of this case. First of 


all, due time should have been allowed to ascertain whether the 
pastor would be able to resume his Mass, therefore the assistant 
erred in proceeding at once to the altar to complete the Mass by the 
sumptio calicis; he should either have left the chalice upon the altar 
(taking proper precautions) or, better still, should have placed it in 
the tabernacle or in the sacristy, in loco decenti supra corporale. 
Since the pastor actually recovered within half an hour, and the 
physician pronounced him out of danger, he could, although no 
longer fasting, have resumed the Mass, even after an hour's inter- 
val, and, performing the sumptio calicis and the remaining rites, 
have brought it to a close. He cannot, however, unless there prevail 
particular circumstances, read a third Mass, as he is no longer fast- 
ing; he Vv^as excused from the lex ecclesiastica jejunii only for the 
completion of his second Mass (though there may be special reasons 
for excusing from the jejunium for the third Mass, such as are 
admitted by some authors). 

Since the assistant has actually finished his pastor's Mass, this 
integratio missae counted for him as his second Mass, and he could 
(even if he has taken no purificatio and ablutio) only say one ad- 
ditional Mass. This is obviously the sense of the decision quoted 
above of the S. C. R. of December 16, 1823, which presupposes that 
the priest celebrates only once a day, for which reason Lehmkuhl 
holds (II. n. 286) : In festo Nativitatis Domini, recte addit collector 
decretorum, posse hanc Missam pro una ex tribus permissis compu- 
tari, ita ut sacerdoti supplenti liceat praeterea duos, non autem tres 
celebrare (since in our case the assistant had already said one Mass: 
liceat praeterea unam, non autem duas celebrare). 



Case. — In a certain locality, the two priests, Fr. Philip and Fr. 
James, observed a totally different attitude in accepting stipends for 
Mass intentions. Fr. Philip would reject many intentions as not in 
accord with the rules of the Church, while Fr. James would accept 
them. The latter held that some of these intentions were lawful, 
and, in the case of others, he enlightened the stipend givers and 
induced them to agree to a modification of their intentions. 
Amongst the intentions rejected by Fr. Philip are the following: 

1. For a child who died without Baptism. 

2. For a deceased Protestant. 

3. For a deceased publicly excommunicated priest. 

4. For the recovery of a sick Jewess, and for a good position for 
a Protestant girl, 

5. For a Catholic suicide. 

Question. — In how far does the acceptance and performance of 
these intentions oppose the Church's precepts ? 

Solution. — Above all it would be well to recommend to these 
two priests a uniform and harmonious procedure in this matter, 
for their present practice is calculated to cause, among&t Catholics 
and non-Catholics, scandal, misinterpretation, and gossip. 

1. Regarding the Holy Mass asked for the child that died without 
Baptism, the principle applies: "jure divino plane incapaces sunt 
cujuslibet missae fructus pro se recipiendi ii, qui jam sunt in idtimo 
termino sua, scilicet 1. damnati, 2. beati, qui Deum insepardbiliter 
possident; quod si pro his posterioribus missae sacrificium offertur, 
id fieri potest ad eorum laudem gratiasque Deo agendas pro bene- 


ficiis heatis illis collatis, 3. infantes sine haptismo defuncti" (Lehm- 
kuhl Cos. Consc. II. n. 192-194). Hence it follows: "Cum igitur 
impossibile sit pro iis cum effectu missam applicare, graviter peccaret 
sacerdos, qui id tentaret" (/. c.). "For deceased baptized children 
the Holy Mass may be offered as a sacrifice of thanksgiving, or, 
indirectly, to obtain for them that which will bestow accidental 
glory" (Gopfert ///. 6 n. 83 p. 120). If Fr. James made to the 
stipend-giver the following proposition : "Since Holy Mass can in 
no wise be of benefit to an unbaptized child that has died, let us 
offer it as thanksgiving to God for the natural gifts He bestowed 
upon the child, for it was indeed a great blessing that God created 
it at all," and if the stipend-giver is satisfied with this intention, and 
no scandal or misunderstanding is to be feared, there would hardly 
be anything forbidden by Divine or ecclesiastical law in the ac- 
ceptance or performance. 

2. If the Protestant who died in heresy, was in good faith and 
therefore saved, he was jure divino capax of the fruits of the Mass, 
but de jure ecdesiastico the principle holds : "We have no com- 
munion in death with those who in life were not in communion 
with us" (Innocent III.). For deceased non-Catholics Mass can in 
no case be said publicly and solemnly, not even in the case of a ruling 
prince or executive. For this reason, as Gopfert (III. 6 n. 84) 
states, the Apostolic See has repeatedly decreed that Mass founda- 
tions for the dead members of a family, some of whom had been 
Catholic and others Protestant, would be restricted to the Catholic 
members. A private and quite secret application, known only to the 
priest and the stipend-giver, is allowed for a deceased heretic only 
when apparently he was in guiltless error, for if he died in manifesta 
haeresi, then, according to the decision of the Holy Office, April 7, 
1875, even this is expressly forbidden. "In manifesta autem haeresi 


omnes moriuntur, qui in externa et notoria haeresis professione 
decedunt" (Noldin ///. 8 n. 176, 4). Much less, as Gopfert points 
out, can it be applied to deceased Jews and heathens. 

If Fr. James seeks a modification of this intention, that may be 
proposed, he will find it in Marc n. 1601, 9, 2, who is also supported 
by others, and who says : "Quod si sacerdoti stipendium pro aliquo 
haeretico defuncto in particulari offeratur, respondere poterit, se 
posse applicare inissam (de requie) pro omnibus fidelibus defunctis 
cum intentione suhveniendi etiam animae illius defuncti, si hoc ac- 
ceptum sit coram Deo." 

3. Fr. Philip declined also to say Mass for a deceased publicly 
excommunicated priest, and quite correctly so, because as vitandus 
this priest had lost "omnem communionem sujfragiorunv publicorum 
et ecclesiasticorum." Only in the event that before his death he 
had given signs of repentance, and at least after death had been 
loosed from the excommunication, could Holy Mass be offered for 
him secretly (occulte). This applies to deceased excommunicati 
vitandi; regarding those still living St. Alphonsus remarks (L. 6. 
n. 308) : "Pro excommunicato vitando tamen licite saccrdos potest 
off err e missam privatini, quatenus est opus proprium suae privatae 
personae, non autem nomine ecclesiae vel ut minister Christi." 
Aertnys (1. VI. 115) appears to restrict this to the personal devo- 
tion and memento of a priest, while Gopfert permits also the accep- 
tance of a stipend, and, therefore, the formal application of the 

4. The fourth case concerns a Mass for a Jewess and for a 
Protestant, both still living. 

a) Regarding all unbaptized persons, St. Alphonsus writes (L. 
VI. 309) : "Probabilius potest offerri missa pro infidelibus: turn quia 
in lege veteri Judaei soliti fuerunt sacrificare pro gentibus, turn quia 


sic celehrans magis conformatur Christo, qui pro omnibus se ohtu- 
lit" This agrees with the response of the S. Office (July 12, 1865), 
which permits acceptance of stipends and intentions from Turks 
and unbeHevers, provided that scandal, superstition, etc., are ex- 

b) For heretics and schismatics the Church allovvrs only the inten- 
tion for the grace of conversion to the true faith, as the answer of 
the S. Office of April 19, 1837, sets forth. A Mass may, there- 
fore, be said for the recovery of the Jewess, but not one for the 
Protestant girl's intention, for the Church is more severe with diso- 
bedient children than with those who are strangers to her. It may 
be regarded as permissible, however, for Catholic friends to have 
a Mass said for her, as, of course, they have in the first place her 
conversion to the true faith in view. Compare Lehmkuhl {Cas. 
Consc. n. II. 3. 195 p. 111). For living non-Catholic executives of 2, 
nation even public and solemn celebration is allowed, as it concerns 
not merely their person but the welfare of the state. 

5. For a Catholic suicide, if Christian burial was not denied him. 
Mass may be offered publicly if no scandal is to be feared; other- 
wise, occiilte (Noldin /// 3 n. 176). The expression occulte, pri- 
vatim, etc., in opposition to public solemnization, means, accord- 
ing to Gopfert: a merely inner intention without announcing 
names or using such in the liturgy, also without special oration, etc. 



Case. — I was obliged ex justitia, by reason of a stipend accepted, 
to offer Mass for the repose of the soul of Anna, on a certain 
determined day. Repairing to the sacristy on the said day, I 
found that, according to the rubrics, the Mass to be said on this 
day was de sancto. After some thought I decided to say the Mass 
pro defuncfa in black, as the relatives were present in the church 
and would not understand my action in saying Mass in the color 
of the day. 

Question. — Did I do right? What should I have done? 

Solution. — According to the teachings of theologians, the quality 
of the Mass, as one of its adjuncts, is to be observed even ex justitia, 
dwnmodo acceptans "stipendium ad ea servanda se ohligaverit" 
(Noldin, Vol. IV., 184, 2). But this obligation binds only when 
one has bound oneself to say a certain definite Mass in a special color 
and when that color is permissible by the rubrics of the day. To 
break the rubrics on this point is sinful. "Qui die vetito Missam 
votivam vel de Requiem celebraret, secluso contemptu et scandalo, 
peccaret" (Genicot IL, 256, 3). This infraction is held to be venial, 
because it involves no notable perversion of the rubrics except when 
done out of contempt or provoking some scandal. Of course, it is 
seldom that scandal is given. 

The priest in question did not do right in setting aside the 
rubrics and following his own plan. If he had promised to say a 
Requiem Mass, a Mass in black, and found that he could not keep 
his promise on the stipulated day he should have called the relatives 
from whom he accepted the stipend, and have explained to them 


that it was impossible for him to fulfil that part of his engagement. 
Had he explained to them that the fruits of the Mass were inde- 
pendent of the color of the vestments, no doubt they would have 
been satisfied. What they were actually looking for was the applica- 
tion of the Mass and not the color of the vestments. If it was im- 
possible to notify them, then he should have observed the rubrics 
and if deemed necessary he could have explained matters later on. 
If they were determined to have the Mass on that day, then by say- 
ing the Mass de sancto he would satisfy his obligation ; for he was 
excused by a legitimate impediment from saying the Mass in black. 
If he had not promised to say a Mass in black vestments, but merely 
had promised to offer Mass on that specified day for the repose of 
the soul of Anna, then he would have satisfied all his obligations by 
saying the Mass of the day for the soul of the departed woman. 
Noldin (Vol. IV. 184, C.) clearly affirms this point. Our people are 
well enough instructed not to insist on a Missa de Requie when the 
rubrics do not permit this Mass to be said. 



Case. — Father Christopher is asked to say thirty Gregorian 
Masses for a deceased person. Some of these Masses he says 
himself ; but falling ill, he has the remainder said by another priest 
in a neighboring town. None of these Masses were said at a 
Gregorian altar. 

Questions — 1. What is the meaning of the Gregorian altar? 

2, What is the Gregorian trentain, or thirty-day Mass? 

3. Did Fr. Christopher fulfill his engagement? 

Solution — 1. It is a privileged altar ; that means to say, that any 
Mass offered on that altar for a certain soul detained in purgatory 
will obtain the deliverance of that soul, not by reason of justice, but 
because of the mercy and liberality of God who accepts the vicarious 
satisfaction. The Congregation of Indulgences gave the following 
reply on July 28th, 1840, to the above question: Per indulgentiam 
altari privilegiato adnexam, si spectetur mens concedentis et usus 
potestatis clavium, intelligendam esse indulgentiam plenariam, quae 
animam statim liberet ah omnibus purgatorii poenis; si vero spec- 
tetur applicationis effectus, intelligendam esse indulgentiam, cujus 
mensura divinae misericordiae beneplacito et acceptationi respondet. 
The good work or indulgence offered in behalf of the deceased 
is offered per modum suffragii, but it has back of it the intercession 
of the Church. It is the belief of the Church that God will not 
turn a deaf ear to the intercession of the Spouse of Christ. The 
Altar of St. Gregory, which is the Altar used by the holy Pontiff, is 
in the chapel of the Church of St. Gregory at Rome, on the Caelian 
hill. The saint during life had a great devotion to the Holy Souls, 


and there is a widespread belief that he obtained from God the 
favor of liberating by his intercession any soul for whom he prayed. 
After his death the faithful adopted the custom of having Masses 
said on his altar, piously trusting to his intercession for the efficacy 
of their prayers. In 1884 the Congregation of Indulgences declared 
that this was a pious custom and one which met with the approval of 
the Church. In due time the Holy See constituted the Altar of St. 
Gregory a privileged one. Since then the Supreme Pontiff has 
designated other altars throughout the world and has annexed to 
them the indulgences granted to the Altar of St. Gregory at Rome, 
at the same time placing them under the special intercessory power 
of that great saint. These are the Gregorian ad instar altars. 
Hence, Masses said on these altars for a soul in purgatory will be 
offered with all the intercessory power of the Church and the saint 
for the immediate deliverance of said soul. It is confidently be- 
lieved that God in His mercy will grant the petition thus made. 

2. The Congregation of Indulgences has likewise approved the 
tricenarium Gregorianum or thirty-day Mass, that is Mass offered for 
thirty consecutive days but not necessarily on the same altar, or by 
the same priest, for a definite deceased person. These Masses are 
not privileged. This is a long-standing custom with the faithful, 
who, relying upon the practice and the intercession of St. Gregory, 
hope that the sacrifice offered as a suffragium under these auspices 
will bring more certain and more abundant fruit to the soul detained 
in purgatory. 

Theologians hold that the continuity of the Gregorian trentain 
is not interrupted when the thirty successive days include the last 
three days of Holy Week. "Non est credible Deimt eas non accep- 
tare ut contimias, dum servatur eius sponsae, Ecclesiae tarn pia 
consuetudo." (Tamburini.) 


3. Since Father Christopher had not promised to celebrate at a 
privileged altar, he fulfilled his obligations by having the Masses 
offered on thirty consecutive days in the manner indicated. It is 
not necessary that the Masses be said by the same priest, or at 
the same altar. They may be celebrated at any altar. 



Case. — Father Peter leaves a bequest, for the benefit of a poor 
mission, of one thousand dollars, with the condition that the priest 
in charge is to say each year fifty Masses, for each Mass to receive 
a stipend of one dollar. The money is invested at five per cent, and 
Father Peter obviously had not thought of a possible lowering of the 
rate of interest. Nevertheless, after a short while it happens that 
the money can no longer be invested at five per cent, and four per 
cent, is the best obtainable. Now, the priest in charge of the mis- 
sion faces a dilemma: either he must reduce the fifty Masses to 
forty; or be satisfied with a smaller stipend. 

Questioti. — Is it lawful to reduce the number of Masses in the 
present case? 

Solution. — The priest is not obliged to let the stipend left him by 
the testator be decreased and consequently it is permitted to reduce 
correspondingly the number of the Masses. That this decision is 
correct is proved (1) from the form of the bequest; (2) from the 
testator's declared intention; (3) from the decisions of weighty 

1. That Father Peter laid stress not upon the number of the 
Masses but upon the amount of the stipend is readily seen by the 
wording of the bequest. If he had willed that in any case, and 
without regard to the yield of interest, the fifty Masses were to be 
said, it would have been superfluous, even absurd, to fix the amount 
of the stipend. Hence we may rightly assume that Father Peter, 
by fixing the stipend, wished to modify his statement about the num- 


ber of Masses. 2. As it was the clearly expressed intention of the 
testator to improve the slender income of the mission, we are justi- 
fied in case of doubt to decide for an interpretation favorable for 
that view. It is obvious that our view favoring reduction of the 
number of Masses is in the sense of that intention, while a reduction 
of the stipend would be opposed to that intention. 3. In support of 
our view we may refer to St. Alphonsus. In his Theologia Moralis 
he raises the question: An possit Capellanus ex se minuere numerum 
missantm, si deficiant reditus? And after he has answered the ques- 
tion in the affirmative, for the case that the income entirely dis- 
appeared, he continues : Si vero reditus deficiant in parte, etiam 
videtur cerium cum Esccb. n. 638 posse Capellanum minuere Missas, 
casii quo testator congruam eleemosynani designaverit. Therefore, 
according to the teaching of St. Alphonsus, when the testator himself 
fixed the amount of the stipend, the priest may, if the income is 
reduced, correspondingly reduce the number of Masses. 



Case. — ^A certain priest received a communication from South- 
ern Italy, the writer being a priest asking for Mass stipends. 
Another priest received from a distant diocese the petition of a 
conf rater for Mass intentions; a recommendation of the bishop 
came with it. 

Question. — Is it permissible toj. send Mass stipends to such 
petitioners ? 

Solution. — Recent legislation of the Church about Mass intentions 
(see the decrees of the S. C. C. "Ut dehita" of May 11, 1904, and 
"Recenti' of May 22, 1907) opposes with severity and under threat 
of punishment any form of barter and gain, the undue accumula- 
tion, and the careless turning over of Mass stipends ; these abuses 
are to be uprooted. In regard to the last-named impropriety, the 
decree "Recenti" says : "Sunt reperti, qui a lege discedentes expressa 
num. 5. Decreti ("Ut dehita") missas celehrandas commiserint, 
non modo copiosius quam licerct largiri privatis, sed etiam incon- 
sideratius; quum ignotis sibi presbyteris easdem crediderint, notni- 
nis titulive alicuius specie decepti vel aliorum commendationibus 
permoti, qui nee eos plane nossent nee assumpti oneris gravitatem 
satis perspectam haberent." 

The Congregation of the Council then addresses itself to the 
bishops and all other ordinaries and superiors of regulars, exhort- 
ing them to exercise in these important matters great vigilance, 
that they should draw the attention of the clergy to the dangers 
that arise from disregard of Church precepts, which oblige strictly 
in conscience, and which are the result of bitter experience. What 


are the precepts to be observed regarding the passing on of Mass 
stipends? When the will of the person requesting the Masses, or 
the regulations of the Church, require that intentions be passed 
to another, they may be given either to another priest, or to the 
Ordinary. For in the former case it is prescribed (see Decree 
"Ut dehita" n. 5. 6). 1. that the recipient be known personally, 
2. that he is without doubt worthy of confidence and a conscien- 
tious priest, and, 3. that he give a verbal or written notice of 
performance of the Masses to the priest who passes on the inten- 
tions. For exact compliance with these precepts the priest who 
has transmitted the stipend is responsible in conscience and with 
his means. Thus the transmitting of stipends is very restricted. The 
law excludes the turning over of intentions to a strange priest, per- 
haps casually met in travelling, or to any strange priest without 
proper credentials. If one wishes to send Mass stipends to secular 
or regular priests outside the diocese, this must be done in the 
manner prescribed by the Congregation of the Council (Decree 
Recenti) : "per eorum Ordinarium, aut ipso saltern audita atque 
annuente." And if bishop or priest wishes to send Mass intentions 
to a bishop or priest in the Orient, he must do this through the 
Congregatio Propagandae Fidei (n. III) or through the apostolic 
delegate (answer of the S. C. C. of September 9, 1907). Superiors 
of Orders and of religious institutions may, according to the same 
answer of the S. C. C, transmit Mass intentions together with the 
stipend directly to members of their Order in the Orient.* The 

*The words "ad Aiitistifes aut preshyteros ecclcsiarum, quae hi Oriente 
sitae sunt" in the decree are explained in a letter of the prefect of the Pro- 
paganda, Cardinal Gotti, to the Missionary Bishop Alois Bcnziger, on Novem- 
ber 5, 1908. By those words are to be understood the bishops and priests 
of Oriental rites, not, however, the vicars apostolic, prefects and bishops of 
the Latin rite who have their Sees in the Orient. Since the decree says 
"missas, quorum exubcret copia," it is not against Church precept if some few 
Mass intentions are sent directly to an Oriental bishop or priest, provided 


priest who hands over intentions to another priest is himself re- 
sponsible for their performance until he is informed that they have 
been said; by transmitting them, however, to a bishop or superior 
of an Order (or to the Holy See, the Congregation of the Pro- 
paganda, or the Apostolic Delegate) all responsibility ceases for 
the priest turning them over (S. C. C, February 27, 1905). For 
these reasons a priest wishing to send Mass stipends to one outside 
his own diocese, should do this through the recipient's Ordinary; 
then the mere notice of receipt suffices (S. C. C, February 27, 

The simplest way for transmitting stipends is to send them to 
one's own Bishop or the Superior of one's Order. In both cases 
all obligation and responsibility cease, they being assumed by the 

The Ordinary must keep two books; one in which Mass inten- 
tions received are noted with the amount of the stipend {"Ut de- 
hita" n. 7), and a second one in which are entered the priests who 
have received Mass intentions, and their number ("Recenti" II). 
This is to be done to avoid the undue accumulation of Mass 
stipends by one priest. The Ordinary must make sure of prompt 
performance of the Masses. From priests the Ordinary must 
require assurance of the celebration (^'Ut dehita"), in transmission 
to another Ordinary this is not required (S. C. C, February, 1910). 
It suffices if the Ordinary transmits Mass stipends with a general 
intention {ad intentionem dantium), and the priests then celebrate 
them according to the intentions of the Ordinary. "Melius tarn en 

the latter be known and quite certainly will read the Masses and give 
notice thereof. According to an Instruction of the 5". C. de Prop. Fide of 
July 15, 1908, it is further permitted to send to an actual Ordinary, (not a 
titular Bishop or Patriarchal Vicar or Superior of an Oriental Order) Mass 
stipends for his diocesan priests, but this must be done with the consent of 
the Apostolic Delegate having jurisdiction. 


esse si patefiant sacerdotibus intentiones praescriptae," was the 
answer of the S. C. C. of February 17, 1905, to a question on 
this subject. The keeping of the two books, the inscribing and 
transmitting of intentions, the control and entering of confirmations 
concerning the celebration of the Masses, will occasion some work 
that will keep a secretary busy quite some time. Since the Archbishop 
of Tarragona received permission for five years to let his secretary 
in charge of intentions keep 3% of the Mass stipends as his 
remuneration (S. C. C, March 8, 1905), this concession may be 
granted to other dioceses upon application. That the expenses of 
transmission fall upon the recipient is evident. 

The obligation regarding the time within which the Masses must 
be said begins with the day on which the intentions are received 
from the Ordinary (S. C. C. of February 17, 1905). From the 
precepts of the Church above cited, it is easy to answer the question 
whether the two priests referred to at the beginning may transmit 
Mass stipends to their petitioners. The first must not send Mass 
intentions to a priest wholly unknown to him and outside his 
diocese. It has happened that Mass stipends came thus into fraud- 
ulent hands, and condonation had to be sought in Rome, which 
was granted. The second is permitted to send intentions to the 
confrater if from the bishop's recommendation it is plain that 
the petitioner is a conscientious priest; and if the bishop grants 
consent for the request of Mass stipends then the bishop assumes 
responsibility. Nevertheless assurance of the celebration of the 
Masses should be insisted on. 



Case. — A penitent accuses himself in confession that he formerly 
{bona fide) passed over essential things, as for instance the num- 
ber and species of mortal sins, that is to say he was careless in his 
confessions, because he knew no better. In another case the con- 
fessor discovered defects of this kind through the manner in which 
a penitent accused himself. He concluded that previous confes- 
sions, or at least a part of them, had been similarly defective. 

Question. — What is the confessor's duty in such cases? 

Solution. — The first mentioned case is dealt with by St. 
Alphonsus in his Moral Theology, L, vi, 504, where hie says : "Dicit 
I. Tamhurini, quod rustici et piieri, qui bona fide confcssi stint, 
omittendo explicare species et numeruni suorum peccatoriini, non 
sunt cogendi ad confessiones repetendas; sed hoc omnino est impro- 
babile, quia licet hujusmodi rustici non teneantur repetere integre 
confessiones praeteritas, tenentur tamen explicare species et nmne- 
rum omissum, ut saltern confessionem praesentem integrant faciant. 
Dicit II. Segneri, quodsi rusticus in confessionibus praeteritis dixerit 
peccata sua modo rudium in confuso, non debet eum confessarius 
obligare, ut confessiones repetat, quia peccata ilia jam fuerunt di- 
recte absoluta: sed neque hoc placet; nam quamvis confessiones illae 
fuerunt validae tamen fuerunt deficientes quoad integritatem mate- 
rialem quae semper supplenda est." The holy doctor, in the ques- 
tion of a supplementary completion of the number and species of 
sins already confessed bona fide, takes a stand between those who 
in such case require a formal general confession, and those who, 
like Tamhurini and Segneri, in this case make no demand upon the 


penitent. He requires that what was lacking in previous confes- 
sions quoad numerum et speciem peccatoriim should now be com- 
pleted; but he does not attack the validity of those confessions. 
For instance, if someone had ex inadvertentia, or otherwise guile- 
lessly, confessed sins of incest, which in committing he knew to be 
such, as peccata fornicationls, then he must now state them specifi- 
cally because they were not directly remitted. 

Berardi in his work: "De recidivis et occasionariiy (Vol. 1, pag. 
209) takes a mild view of the duty to correct the number in a 
subsequent confession. He holds that if one bona fide understates 
merely the number of the mortal sins, he needs not correct his state- 
ment, for the confessor has at least in confuso apprehended the 
frequency of the sins confessed, and has absolved directly from the 
sins as many as there were. He refers to the authority of De Lugo, 
who writes {De Poen. S. 14, n. 579) : "Casu quo riisticus propter 
majorem notitiam quam postea acquisivit, vel puer grandior jam 
f actus melius jam posset explicare numerum, quern sub generalitate 
et grosso modo dixerat in confessionibus bona fide jam factis, an 
deheat nunc facere et supplere defectum tunc commissum circa inte- 
gritatem melius declarandamf . . . Durum videtur imponere hoc 
onus. . . . Non est obligatio, iterum deferendi ad hoc judicium 
sacramentale illud peccatwn a quo jam directe in eodem judicio per 
judicem legitimmn fuit poenitens absolutus." 

This viev/ regarding the number is certainly correct in those cases 
where the penitent declared the number only generally and ap- 
proximately, and the confessor understood the frequency in con- 
fuso and in general, and gave absolution. It would be different if 
the penitent had declared a fixed number and later discovered a 
greater frequency. Here without doubt he would have to declare 
the larger number. 


It is to be further remarked, with Lugo, that if a penitent reveals 
the state of his conscience to the best of his knowledge and ability, 
he is not obliged later to repeat individual sins which had been in- 
cluded in general statements, if later the same come to his memory 
in concreto, because they are included in the former accusations. 
Indeed, such repetition is not even advisable, nor must the confes- 
sor permit it, if the penitent is at all of a scrupulous nature. A per- 
son of this kind might, by repetition of sins not confessed, become 
a victim of uneasiness and doubt, all the more as the laity ordinarily 
cannot distinguish between actus principales and suhordinati, and 
believe they must confess the latter also in detail, although it is 
known to be unnecessary if the former, of which they are part, are 

From the above-mentioned we gather the following: If it is a 
question of former confessions that are not really invalid, but 
only incomplete, because of defects that happened bona fide, then 
the confessor has merely to demand that the penitent state the cir- 
cumstances that must be stated, and that were previously omitted, 
of his grievous sins; further that he correct according to his present 
knowledge a fixed number that he stated too low; finally, that he 
mention those newly discovered sins, that are not part of any species 
of sins already confessed. But the penitent need not confess sins 
which he recalls now for the first time in concreto, if he has already 
confessed their genus and frequency. He need not repeat them if 
their number, mentioned in confuso to the best of his knowledge, 
now appears to him as much larger, and still less is he to be 
obliged to make a general confession to amend this incompleteness, 
as such obligation exists only when there is a moral certainty that 
his past confessions were really invalid (Lehmkuhl, Theol. Mar., 
vol. II., 345), which is here not the case. 


2. The case of merely suspected incompleteness of former con- 
fessions. — The supplementing of previous bona fide confessions is 
obligatory only when their incompleteness is manifest. The severe 
view of St. Alphonsus that the material integrity is always to be 
supplied {"quae semper supplenda est") refers to the case when 
incompleteness is known without doubt, but not to the case in 
which it is merely suspected. Here is more applicable another 
direction of the holy doctor: "Bona fide confessos non nimis rogan- 
dos esse de confessionibus praeteritis, nisi intelligatur, aliquid neces- 
saritim defuisse" (L. VI., n. 471). Therefore, if the confessor has 
weighty reasons to suspect that the penitent has not properly stated 
the number and circumstances in previous confessions, he should 
ascertain whether the penitent is at ease in regard to his previous 
confessions. If the answer is affirmative he will inquire no further, 
7iisi intelligat aliquid necessarium defuisse; for if the confessor 
would have to put questions to most penitents about former confes- 
sions for fear of insufficient accusation, this would be quite a bur- 
den for the confessor, and also for the penitent. The latter prob- 
ably would dislike to be subjected to such examination, especially 
when they go to confession so seldom that one must be glad to see 
them in the confessional at all. 

This burden would be greater for the confessor; for while the 
penitent would only bear the burden for his person, the task would 
be imposed upon the confessor in regard to all who come to con- 
fess. There applies here the maxim, *Tt is not well to insist upon 
material integrity at any price." The rules of prudence must here 
guide, according to the other universally accepted principle : "Caven- 
dum est, ne Sacramentum Poenitentiae fiat nimis onerosum aut 

We are confirmed in this view by another consideration. Be- 


rardi teaches op. cit. p. 210 that a habitual sinner who has taken 
little or no pains to amend during a long life of sin is obvi- 
ously obliged to repeat his confessions, because they are to be 
regarded as invalid. Whether there does exist in such a case a 
positive obligation to make a general confession is somewhat doubt- 
ful. There prevails on this point another, milder, view. Noldin 
says: "Hi, qui diutius in pravo pcccandi habitu vixerunt et, quam- 
vis saepius ad sacramenta accesserint, semper tamen in eadein pec- 
cata sine serio emendationis conatu relapsi sunt, ad confessionem 
generalem instituendain stride obligari neqiieimt, quia certo iion 
constat praeteritas confessiones fiiisse invalidas; cum tamen nan 
imprudenter de earum valor e dubitari possit, enixe ad confessionem 
generalem hortandi sunt" (Summa Theol. Mor., ed V . P. III. n. 
437). However, if the penitent is in good faith, the confessor 
should be careful in mentioning an obligation of a more complete 
confession. First of all he must ascertain whether it be opportune 
to make the obligation known to him. "Reapse ut poenitens cogi 
debeat ad confessionem generalem, non sufficit, ut ipse ad illam 
teneatur, sed exigitur etiam, ut eadem obligatio prudenter ei possit 
manifestari." Frassinetti and Gousset are quoted by Berardi in 
support of this view. 

To conclude, if according to these authorities a general confes- 
sion, even though necessary to revalidate previous confessions, must 
not under certain circumstances be demanded, so much the less 
should the administrator of the Sacrament of Penance, merely for 
the material completeness of the confession, insist on a proceeding 
which is calculated to make the Sacrament of Penance odious. 
Should, therefore, the confessor have reason to fear that in previous 
confessions not everything had been satisfactorily told quoad nu- 
merum et speciem, he must not question the penitent about his past 


lifefif he must fear that it would be distasteful to the penitent, which 
is often the case. It were best here, too, to take the golden mean. 
If the confessor for good reasons considers that he ought not ask 
his penitent to make a general confession, he may at least cause 
him to accuse himself summatim et generaliter of the sins which he 
fears are not confessed, and consequently not directly remitted. 
The confessor will inquire, then, how often the penitent used to 
confess during the period in which he fears that the confessions 
have been incomplete or invalid, and will help him to arouse a sin- 
cere contrition. 

This procedure can certainly not prove irksome or hard for a 
penitent, and it will serve to put the confessor at ease, in as much 
as it will help to supply the defects of previous confessions in case 
a general confession is not to be insisted on. 



Such confessions happen perhaps much more frequently than 
many confessors suppose. Missionaries can best tell about this, be- 
cause they often have to validate unworthy confessions. "If Mis- 
sions," says St. Alphonsus, "were of no other benefit, than that 
they make good many sacrilegious confessions, wherein grievous 
sins have been concealed, especially by females, from motives of 
false shame, then this would be reason enough to let them be held. 
Unworthy confessions happen particularly in small communities, 
either because there are few confessors there, or because one sees 
them every day, as children see their parents, as friend sees friend, 
and therefore one is ashamed to reveal certain actions, the result 
being that the sinner is afraid to confess the faults committed and 
hence passes his whole life in a sacrilege, many Indeed not even 
breaking this silence of shame upon their death-beds. Now the es- 
sential fruits of a Mission consist in making good the many invalid 
confessions; for sinners well know that the Missioners are strang- 
ers, and in a few days will take their departure without ever seeing 
them again. And thus, moved by their sermons, they hurry to the 
confessionals in order to purify themselves of all their concealed 
sins, by a sincere repentance." 

However, Missions cannot always be held, while sacrilegious con- 
fessions may be committed at any time. Therefore, the priest 
should not fail to preach often about this kind of confessions. 
"Father," thus wrote Saint Theresa to a preacher, "preach very 
often against unworthy confessions; for the devil has no net in 
which he catches as many souls as in this." A certain priest, upon 


reading this, resolved that in every parish in which he would be 
stationed he would at the first opportunity preach about unworthy 
confessions, and, after the example of St. Vincent of Paul, urge 
the people to make general confessions, since in his quite correct 
opinion it is just these unworthy confesisons that are the greatest 
obstacle to successful pastoral work. True to his resolution, he 
preached in every parish, where he worked after that, several ser- 
mons on the "dumb devil in the confessional," and it became appar- 
ent everywhere, even where it had seemed superfluous, that the 
great St. Theresa was right. Simply to mention unworthy confes- 
sions in a sermon would not help much if it is not made the special 
theme of the sermon. Of course, the preacher should not be con- 
tent to give to this important theme just one sermon, he must return 
to it again and again, so that the remorse of conscience, which with 
God's grace is awakened in the penitent at the first sermon, be not 
allowed to vanish, but is made persistent until the soul in this 
lamentable state discloses to the spiritual physician its burden in the 
Sacrament of Penance. Saint Leonard of Port Maurice, as experi- 
enced a confessor as he was a zealous Missioner, was accustomed to 
ask at the conclusion of a confession, if he considered it expedient, 
the simple question : "Did you ever conceal a sin because you were 
ashamed to tell it ? In your childhood, or youth perhaps ? Tell me, 
I beg of you, I will help you!" and he was wont to say that through 
this question he had saved more souls than he had hairs on his 



Case. — Titus, having read theological writings dealing with the 
Sacrament of Penance, has adopted the opinion that the time when 
a sin was committed need not be mentioned in confession, that this 
circumstance, as also the time of the last confession, may even 
intentionally be stated falsely without incurring invalidity of the 

Hence he confesses: "I went to confession a week ago. I was 
distracted in prayer, was impatient, lied once, and include from my 
previous life twenty sins of fornication." He receives for his 
penance three Our Fathers. As a matter of fact it is six months 
since he went to confession, and he has committed the "included" 
mortal sins since then. 

Question. — Is the confession valid? 

Solution. — Suarez, Konich, Sanchez, Tamburini, Gury, D'Anni- 
bale, Bucceroni, Genicot, Lugo, Noldin, declare the circumstantia 
temporis so unessential that one may dissemble it, if certain cir- 
cumstantiae speciem mutantes, marriage for instance, do not depend 
upon it. Indeed, some declare the confession valid in spite of a 
direct lie. I think, nevertheless, that the present case might cause 
them no little perplexity. Many reasons are here in favor of an 
absolute inadequacy of such a confession; and it is more than 
probable that such an outright lie renders the confession invalid, 
although Ballerini and some other theologians think that such a lie 
is not grave. Sporer holds the confession in this case to be invalid. 

Every confession must be so made that the confessor may be 


able to exercise his difficult and responsible office at least essen- 
tialiter. This office is threefold: Teacher (by exhortation, instruc- 
tion). Physician (prescribing remedies). Judge (granting, delaying, 
denying absolution). The imposition of penance belongs, first of 
all, to the judicial office, but also to the physician's. It is admitted 
that in the case of sufficiently instructed penitents, who know the 
necessary remedies and use them, and especially in the case of con- 
fessions of devotion, in which there is nO' materia necessaria, no 
grievous sins, possibly not even venial ones, the first two offices may 
be left out of consideration; but the office of judge is in every case 
to be exercised. The penitent, therefore, sins grievously if, being in 
mortal sin, he renders impossible for the confessor the exercise of 
the judicial office and of the office of physician when this is strictly 
essential. This he may do by falsely stating the time. 

In the present case, if an occasio proxirna is not present, and in 
many cases where no ignorance prevails, the office of teacher is not 
important. But that of physician is here wholly frustrated. The 
confessor will not feel obliged to heal wounds that he considers 
healed long ago I 

Innocent XI. condemned the proposition that in confession to a 
question about the consuetudo a penitent need not answer. Why 
this, when the number of sins since the last confession has been 
mentioned? Obviously because the penitent must not hinder the 
confessor from practising his office as physician, if the latter con- 
siders it expedient to do so in a special case! This, however, is 
the fact in our case, since the penitent excludes beforehand a ques- 
tion concerning his spiritual state. If one would concede to the 
penitent the right (salva secus integritate confessionis, in absence 
of every near occasion, etc.) of stating the time falsely, one with a 
prava consuetudo might reply; "I had this habit formerly." Does 


this correspond with the intention of Innocent XL in rejecting the 
proposition above mentioned? 

Furthermore, the penitent by his false statement frustrates also the 
proper exercise of the judicial office. Not indeed because the sin 
committed in his past life is different from those committed recently; 
but because the confessor in this case did not as judge impose a pooni- 
tentia congrua, which is his strict duty (unless important reasons 
cause him to depart from it), and the penitent guiltily put an ob- 
stacle in the way of his fulfilling this duty. To prevent one from 
doing one's grave duty is manifestly a mortal sin. One cannot raise 
the objection that the penitent himself might perform a self-imposed 
severe penance, for, apart from all other consideration, he cannot 
impose upon himself without the confessor's authority a sacra- 
mental penance. Nor may it be said that the penance is not essen- 
tialiter necessary to the Sacrament; for it is pars integralis, and for 
materia gravis is generally imposed sub gravi and as opus grave. 
Any deviation in this matter is the confessor's responsibility. For 
"included" grievous sins the confessor will, of course, not give a 
severe penance. 

Suppose a penitent falls once or twice a month into a sin of 
impurity, but confesses every time venial sins and includes the sin 
of impurity as committed three years ago. It is not the failure to 
mention the consuetudo, that renders the confession invalid, for 
this must be mentioned only when questioned about, but the circum- 
stance that the insincerity of the penitent renders it impossible for 
the confessor to exercise his office as physician and judge ! 

Hence we hold that the "including" of grievous sins, really com- 
mitted shortly before, renders the absolution invalid. It may be 
asked when and under what conditions the circumstantia temporis 
may be dissembled. We say, whenever the intentional dissimulation 


or false statement of time, apart from cases of mutatio speciei, re- 
servation, consuetudo , occasio proxima, etc., do not render the con- 
fessor's administering of his office as physician and judge impos- 
sible, then such dissimulation does not render the absolution invalid. 
Therefore: (1) If a person confesses as materia necessaria a mor- 
tal sin, committed from momentary frailty (not ex consuetudine, or 
propter occasionem, as relapsus in a recidivus), but on being ques- 
tioned states a wrong time (perhaps telling the sin as "previously 
forgotten" or through forgetfulness insufficiently stated quoad nii- 
mcniin), the absolution is prohabilius valid; for the confessor does 
net need to exercise his office as physician in the case of an acci- 
dental sin of frailty, the repetition of v/hich is not to be feared, and 
therefore, the frustration may hardly be called sinful ; he will, or 
ought to, exercise his office as judge by imposing the proper penance, 
as the sin was mentioned as materia necessaria. (2) If in a general 
confession the penitent does not distinguish between recent and past 
mortal sins, the confession is valid provided there be no habit, occa- 
sion, change of species, etc. The confessor is able to exercise his 
office of physician and judge. Of course the penitent would sin 
gravely if he answered falsely regarding a still existing habit or 



Case. — At a recent mission in our church a very zealous mis- 
sionary, in his talk on Confession, advised the congregation to 
make a general Confession as a preparation for death, which might 
be imminent, and as a means of making sure of the mission indul- 
gences. After hearing Confessions for many hours, I, a parish 
priest, concluded that a general Confession was an unnecessary 
tax upon priest and penitent. Thereafter I allowed only an ordi- 
nary Confession. 

Question. — Was I justified in my action? 

Solution. — Theologians teach that there are times when a general 
Confession is necessary; times when it is useful; and again times 
when it is neither necessary nor useful. When it is necessary by 
reason of some defect in past Confessions, it becomes the duty of 
the confessor as the minister of the Sacrament to see that it is made 
— made integrally and validly. Hence, in such circumstances he 
must insist on a general Confession. Where there is a well-founded 
doubt as to the validity of former Confessions, he may advise gen- 
eral Confession, but cannot impose it, as no one is obliged to re- 
peat Confessions, unless he is morally sure of the worthlessness of 
prior ones. Even in cases where there is not even the shadow of 
a doubt about the validity of former absolutions, it may be very 
advisable to recommend a general Confession for various reasons. 
The ultimate object of such advice would of course be the betterment 
of the penitent's spiritual condition. In these days when men are 
taken up more and more with the things of the world, to the detri- 
ment of the things of the soul, when the service of mammon has 
been substituted for the service of God, it is clearly the duty of the 


followers of Christ to protect themselves from the dangers sur- 
rounding them by leading a more spiritual life. This can be ac- 
complished by means of Confession, even by making from time to 
time general Confessions. Reviews (general in a sense) have ever 
been used by religious communities as a means of attaining greater 
perfection. Such Confessions beget greater humility, greater con- 
trition, greater purity of heart, and hence a greater desire for the 
more perfect service of God. Particularly is this the case when 
they are preceded by meditations on sin, death, eternity, etc., as 
happens in time of retreat or of missions, jubilees, etc. This is 
spoken of by Benedict XIV. in his Apostolic Constitution of 1749. 
"Ita universa vitae ratio animo observatur; ex quo hominis timor 
ac htunilitas, major in peccatum horror insurgit: augentur vires, 
ut quidquid ad malum provocat, propulsetur; jucundissima pax et 
tranquillitas animo accedit; et quae praeteritis confessionibus illata 
sunt damna sarciuntur." It is evident the Supreme Pontiff was 
strongly in favor of general Confession at such times as those of 
mission and jubilee, as this constitution was issued in preparation 
for the jubilee of 1750. 

It follows that it is a good plan to advise general Confessions at 
such seasons of grace as a means to an end. Where general Con- 
fessions are neither necessary nor useful, they are not to be per- 
mitted. This is the case when penitents wish to make a general 
Confession for some outside motive; from vanity or pseudo-humil- 
ity, or because the confessor is new to them and they foolishly 
think that such a Confession is necessary that their true spiritual 
condition may be known to him; or more frequently where the 
penitent is given to scrupulosity; in such instances this kind of 
Confession only begets greater difficulties. From what has been 
said above, the solution of the case is obvious. The missionary 


was giving evidence of his zeal for souls and of his wholesome 
practical judgment. He did well in preaching general Confession 
during the mission; his advice would be more practical if he en- 
couraged a general Confession not of the whole life, but of the sins 
committed since the last general Confession. This simplifies mat- 
ters by removing occasion of confusion, worry, doubt, anxiety, etc., 
the natural concomitants of all drastic search into one's past life, 
thus leading to more certain and more beneficial results. With this 
modification, the holy man's action is extremely commendable. 
The parish priest did not look at the facts from the proper angle. 
His judgment was obscured by the personal element he introduced. 
His consideration for the penitent was fraught with spiritual dis- 
advantages to the pisnitent, and led him into a violation of the 
virtue, if not of justice, at least of charity. 



Case. — At a mission a female penitent confesses to one of the 
missionaries, and ad sextum she mentions that she includes every- 
thing, but that her regular confessor had forbidden her to go into 
details for the reason that he was convinced that her offences were 
only imaginary and due to scrupulousness. However, having 
listened to a sermon on invalid confessions, she had become troubled 
about the matter and feared that not everything was as it should be. 
Hence, she thought, she had better ask the advice of the missionary. 
In answer to some questions she admits that she had reason to think 
that she had simulated scrupulousness, partly because ashamed to 
state the facts, and partly "to get off easy," as she puts it. The 
missionary decides that she must now tell him the full facts so that 
the past might be done with for good. 

Question. — Is the decision correct? 

Solution. — The decision is correct because it is connected with a 
mission, therefore with a general renovation. Also because, as a 
matter of fact, it happens that some penitents, especially women, 
simulate scrupulousness, and persist in it for a long time, to obtain 
leniency. While such a penitent makes confession, the confessor 
should be most kind, because such penitents need often a great deal 
of persuasion to come out with the full truth. However, when the 
penitent is through with the confession, the confessor may deem 
himself justified and in duty bound to talk very seriously and even 
severely to such a penitent. 



Case. — Emerentianus, a saintly confessor, has many penitents, 
some of whom he is preparing to enter the ecclesiastical state. In 
the course of his preparation, he has laid down certain rules for 
their daily government; that is, he has marked out certain rules, 
a sort of novitiate, to be followed by these special penitents. When 
he finds they have not lived up to these rules, he orders them to 
abstain from Holy Communion on specific days, either as a stimulus, 
or as penance. He even follows this plan in dealing with some of 
his other penitents, who are to remain in the world. 

Question. — Is such a plan advisable? 

Solution. — Holiness, no doubt, is very desirable in the life of a 
confessor; but it is not the only requisite. God, whose place the 
confessor takes, expects his representative to have the necessary 
knowledge for his work, and a certain amount of practical prudence. 
Now it is evident from the decree of Pius X. (Dec. 20th, 1905), 
that confessors should urge their penitents to receive Holy Com- 
munion frequently, even daily. The confessor is obliged to be 
familiar with this decree, and to desire to execute it. According 
to this decree, only two things are required for daily Communion, 
freedom from mortal sin, and a right intention. The law reads: 
"Caveant tamen confessarii ne a frequenti seu quotidiana com- 
munione quemquem avertant, qui in statu gratiae reperiatur et 
recta mente accedat." Freedom from mortal sin and a desire to 
please God, coupled with a wish to run to the Divine Physician with 
our infirmities and defects, entitle a penitent to receive the Holy 


Eucharist daily. It is evident that the penitents in question are of 
this class and fulfil all the conditions demanded by the late 
Holy Father. Therefore they should be permitted to receive the 
Body and Blood of their Lord as often as they desire. It seems 
to us that the method of action pursued by the confessor in ques- 
tion is very unwise, and imprudent, and at the same time very 
unjust. His penitents are endeavoring to come closer to God, as 
is evident from their acceptance of the rule of life, and the con- 
fessor should therefore encourage them to the use of every means 
at his disposal that will help them to realize their desire. Now 
theology, reason, and common sense tell us that daily Communion 
is the most sure means of obtaining strength for all who are bent 
upon the acquisition of purity of life, and who are determined to 
advance in holiness. The confessor's ruling deprives these peni- 
tents of this powerful, God-given means to a successful issue with 
the infirmities and temptations of weak human nature, and is con- 
sequently detrimental to the very end he has in view. It should, 
therefore, not be countenanced. It is true that the Holy Father 
declares that the confessor should be consulted, on so important a 
spiritual matter; but in doing so, he lays down the laws that are 
to govern the confessor in forming his judgment. In the present 
case, we must notice that there is no question of sin, either mortal 
or venial, but of the breaking of regulations merely arbitrary in their 
nature. Now, no such regulations fall under the laws specified by 
the Supreme Pontiff. It is evident, likewise, that the infraction of 
these arbitrary rules does not show a lack of the necessary inten- 
tion. It is clear that the injunctions of the Vicar of Christ are 
by no means lived up to in the case before us. Emerentianus should 
find some less damaging and more fruitful plan to accomplish his 
excellent and holy object. Let us add here that abstinence from 


Holy Communion not being a salutary penance, should not be made 
a Sacramental penance. It is subversive of the very object of 
Sacramental penance, and is therefore unjustifiable. Penance by 
its nature is intended to do good : this one does harm. It is intended 
to heal : this one removes the most salutary of all remedies. Emeren- 
tianus is pursuing a wrong course, one that is in no way to be 



Case. — Father Julius while hearing confessions is about to give 
Edward absolution when he suddenly decides to interrogate this 
penitent. This consumes some time, as it involves long explana- 
tions on the part of Edward. Satisfied at length Father Julius, 
after a few words of exhortation, pulls the slide, and goes on with 
hearing the next penitent. After the lapse of a quarter of an hour 
the priest becomes conscious of the fact that Edward had not been 
absolved. The next morning while distributing Holy Communion 
he sees this same man at the communion rail. He is perplexed. 
What is he to do? He concludes he cannot deprive the man of 
the Sacrament without causing wonder, even scandal, and so he 
determines to give him the Sacred Host and let the matter rest there. 
Question. — Was Fr. Julius right in giving Communion to Edward? 
Sohition. — The defect here recited we class as a culpable one, 
affecting the validity of the Sacrament. The general theological 
doctrine is that such a defect must be repaired by the confessor, 
even at great inconvenience to himself or to the penitent, provided 
the latter is exposed to grave evil arising from the culpable action 
of the confessor. The reason for this is the obligation in justice, 
which the priest contracts when he assumes the role of confessor. 
But if no grave spiritual damage is to be feared, then the con- 
fessor may leave his penitent in good faith. If the confession 
involved only venial sins, the confessor need not be disturbed, as 
these sins can be, and are, removed in many other ways, as for 
example by the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. If Edward had 
accused himself of mortal sin, the priest, if possible, should call 
him to his presence and explain the situation to him. He should 


then urge him to a renewed act of contrition and, on the presumption 
that no new mortal sin had been committed, should absolve him. 
But, beyond doubt, in nearly every instance such procedure would 
be very embarrassing to both, penitent and priest. If this be so, 
or if the penitent cannot be easily recalled, conditional absolution 
may be given him, provided he is theologically present. The fact 
that Edward was already at the altar rail, waiting to receive Holy 
Communion, makes it impossible for the priest to acquaint him 
with the defect of absolution. He is not justified under the existing 
conditions in sending him away from the altar, hence he must leave 
him in good faith and give him Holy Communion. Julius should 
not be disturbed about the difficulty, as the sins of Edward, even 
the mortal sins, can be forgiven by his reception of the Holy 
Eucharist, and by absolution in his next Confession. However, 
we are of the opinion that Julius should have given conditional 
absolution to his penitent at the altar rail before the administration 
of the grace-giving Sacrament of the Body of the Lord. 



Case. — Linus, a priest, has had jurisdiction in his diocese for 
the past two years. His faculties have now expired. Two or three 
days before their termination he wrote to the Bishop acquainting 
him with the facts and asking a further extension of two years. 
He has heard nothing from the Bishop since, ahhough he has no 
doubt that his request will be favorably received. This morning, 
after Mass, he was requested by some of his regular penitents to 
hear their Confession. At first he was inclined to refuse, but then, 
considering that the penitents would not understand any technical 
explanation he could give, also reasoning that the renewed faculties 
must be on the way to him, he decided to hear the Confessions as 
requested. Thinking the matter over afterwards, he concludes that 
the Church supplies the jurisdiction in case of common error and 
he is satisfied that his action was correct. 

Question. — How would you solve the case? 

Solution. — In the first place, Linus has no right to act on the 
presumption that the Bishop will renew his faculties ; for while we 
may use tacit jurisdiction, it is not lawful to use presumptive juris- 
diction. Then, the argument that the penitents would not under- 
stand has no force in Canon Law. Such ignorance of penitents 
can never be considered as a title for assumption of jurisdiction. 
Penitents might be amazed that their regular confessor should 
refuse to hear their Confessions at the particular time, yet they 
would be apt to assign many a saving reason for his refusal. 
Thirdly, the confessor who hears in such an instance Confessions 
with the excuse that his faculties must then be on the way to him. 


must be in the post office, etc., reasons in a way that is not sanc- 
tioned by the law. Delegated jurisdiction has its effect only from 
the moment it is authentically received and accepted (cf. Genicot, 
Vol. II, No. 327-5 ; Lehmkuhl, Vol. II, No. 380) even though there 
be no doubt that it will be most certainly granted (cf. Genicot, 
Vol. II, No. 331). It may in fact be on the way, the messenger 
may be at the door with the documents, the servant may be bringing 
them to the priest ; but as long as the confessor has not authentically 
received them by his own person, then it must be said that he has no 
knowledge of the fact that the Bishop has actually granted him 
the required faculties, and hence he cannot use what he has not. 
His subsequent reasoning that the Church supplied jurisdiction was 
correct only prohahiliter. It is not certain that the Church supplies 
when there is lack of jurisdiction without a tituhis coloratus. It 
is merely probable that she does by reason of the common error, 
hence for the common good. This is the case before us, for the 
jurisdiction of Linus having expired he has no title to jurisdiction. 
But even though the Church actually supplied, that does not make 
the action of Linus licit outside of a case of necessity, which does 
not exist under the circumstances given above. We must conclude 
that Linus's action in hearing Confessions and absolving v/as 
gravely illicit. He lacks theological sense. 



Case. — George is preaching a mission in the diocese of X. Whilst 
hearing confessions he meets with the following cases, which he 
learns are reserved in the diocese mentioned. 

1. Sharah, a converted Jewess, confesses that she, after her con- 
version in 1911, contracted marriage with Isaac before a Lutheran 
Minister. She has now four children. Isaac, she says, is willing to 
have the marriage validated. George absolves her and tells her to 
consult the Pastor about the marriage. The Pastor refuses to marry 
her until the case has been referred to the Bishop, 

2. Damian, a prominent Holy Name member, confesses that he 
caused great scandal by recently getting married before a civil magis- 
trate, which is a reserved case in the diocese of X. George, with 
an admonition to repair the scandal, absolves him, and bids him 
have his marriage revalidated. 

After four weeks of strenuous labor on the mission, George 
returns to the quiet of parochial life. Whilst hearing confessions 
in the diocese of Z, where he is assigned, he has the following cases : 

3. On the eve of the Ascension, Bertha comes to Confession 
accusing herself of sending, without reason, her children to the 
public school, which case is reserved to the Bishop of Z. As Bertha 
has not been to Confession in two years, George at once absolves her. 

4. Leaving the church he is summoned to the parlor to hear the 
confession of a priest. It is Joseph, a religious, who accuses himself 
of having violated the vow of poverty, the absolution of which he 
says his superior reserved to himself. 

Questions — L What changes of legislation with regard to re- 
served cases have been affected by the decree of the Holy Office of 


the 13th of July, 1916? What are the cases merA.ioned in the decree 
in which the confessor may absolve from sins reserved to the 
Bishop ? 

2. Does the above decree affect those cases reserved to the Ordi- 
nary in the Bull Apostolicae Sedisf 

3. Does the above decree affect the cases reserved to Bishops 
by the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore? 

4. Does the decree of the Sacred Congregation "De Religiosis," 
Aug. 5th, 1913, affect the cases reserved by religious superiors? 

5. Did George rightly absolve in the cases proposed to him? If 
so, on what grounds? 

Solution. — Ad Im. According to the decree of the Holy Office, 
July 13, 1916, episcopal reservation ceases in the following cases: 

(a) Reservation ceases ipso jure with regard to the sick not able 
to leave the house, wishing to go to Confession ; with regard to those 
confessing, about to contract matrimony ; as often as, in the prudent 
judgment of the confessor, the faculty of absolving cannot be asked 
without a grave inconvenience to the penitent, or without danger of 
violation of the sacramental seal. 

(b) Reservation also ceases if, in a certain particular case, the 
faculty of absolving has been asked and was refused. It ceases, 
however, for that case only. 

(c) During the entire time set aside for the fulfillment of the 
Easter duty parish priests and those in jure considered such, may 
absolve from all reserved episcopal cases. 

(d) Missionaries during the time of the mission have the same 

(e) Lastly, penitents incurring a reservation in one diocese, may 
be absolved by any approved confessor in another diocese where 


such reservation does not exist, even though they go there precisely 
for obtaining Absolution. 

Ad 2m. The above decree does not affect the cases reserved to 
the Bishops in the Bull Apostolicae Sedis, as these are of Papal 
legislation. , 

Ad 3m. With regard to the cases reserved by the Plenary Coun- 
cil of Baltimore, there is at present a diversity of opinion whether 
they are affected by the present decree. There is grave authority 
for maintaing that they are not affected, as the scope of the late 
decree seems to be to limit the power of individual Bishops. There 
is, however, also a very grave authority that the decree extends to 
all episcopal cases. No official interpretation of this point has as 
yet been given. 

Ad 4m. The power of reservation of religious superiors has been 
practically taken av/ay by the decree of 1913, according to which any 
confessor approved by the Ordinary can absolve validly and licitly 
every religious, even in cases reserved with censure. 

Ad 5m. (1) As it is doubtful, duhio speculativo, whether 
George had the jurisdiction to absolve Sarah in virtue of the above 
decree, the Church will supply the jurisdiction. 

(2) George undoubtedly had jurisdiction to absolve Damian in 
virtue of the late decree. 

(3) If George was formally or equivalently a parish priest and 
if the confession of Bertha, took place during the time for fulfilling 
the Easter duty, the episcopal reservation ceased. 

(4) George validly and licitly absolved Joseph in virtue of the 
decree of 1913. 



Case. — Cosmos, a priest of the diocese of X, passing through the 
adjoining diocese A, is asked by Listrus, a layman of the diocese 
of D, to hear his confession. At first the request is refused. Upon 
second thought the priest consents, for he recalls that theologians 
agree that confessors can validly absolve all strangers. Since he 
is in good standing in his own diocese, he sees no reason why he 
should not validly absolve. So he hears the confession and imparts 

Question. — Is this absolution really valid; if so, from whom does 
the priest receive his faculties? 

Solution. — St. Alphonsus taught that peregrini could be validly 
absolved by virtue of faculties received ex voluntate ecclesiae, and 
therefore by virtue of jurisdiction received immediately from the 
Pope, or, mediately, through the bishop whose subject the penitent 
is. But theologians to-day have adopted the opinion of Ballerini 
{Op. Theol. Moral, Vol. v,\), which may be stated as follows: (1) 
In order to absolve a peregrinus faculties must be granted by one 
who has ordinary jurisdiction over the penitent; (2) the existence 
of the custom of absolving peregrini outside their diocese neither 
conveys nor can convey the necessary jurisdiction; (3) jurisdiction 
is given by consent (express or tacit) or leave (implicit or explicit) 
of the Ordinary or of the particular pastor of the peregrinus; (4) 
this consent includes the imparting of jurisdiction to the confessor 
chosen by the peregrinus; (5) a sufficient indication of the consent 
exists in the tolerance of the custom with the knowledge of the 
bishop and without any reclamation on his part; (6) the jurisdiction 
dependent upon this consent may be withdrawn, thus destroying the 


custom and invalidating any absolution imparted to his subjects. 
So much for the source of jurisdiction over peregrini. Can v^o. 
hold, then, that Cosmos received the necessary faculties for the 
absolution of Listrus from the bishop of D? No, v^e cannot. For 
though the custom does exist of granting indirect jurisdiction to 
those priests v^'ho are chosen by peregrini as their confessors, yet in 
accordance with the principles of Canon Law, only such priests 
can exercise jurisdiction who have received the necessary approba- 
tion from the bishop of the place where the confessions are heard. 
To impart absolution without this approbation is sinful, and of 
course renders null and void the absolution granted. The bishop 
of D can not grant this essential requirement to Cosmos, for he is 
not the proper subject of the bishop of D. The bishop of X has 
already approved Cosmos, but this approbation is limited and is of 
no value within the territorial jurisdiction of the Ordinary of A. 
The bishop of A has given no approbation to this foreign priest, 
hence Cosmos has no approbation for the hearing of confessions 
within the diocese of A. It is evident he does wrong in hearing the 
confession of Listrus, and the absolution he imparted was abso- 
lutely invalid. Bishops do not intend to give jurisdiction to those 
who cannot legitimately exercise it. Wherefore it is not their wish 
to bestow it on those who do not possess the necessary approbation. 
Hence we can hold that the kind-hearted Cosmos did not even have 
the all essential jurisdiction, and, as a consequence, could not validly 



Case. — Father Narcissus, an approved confessor, while visiting 
a hospital conducted by nuns is asked to hear the confession of one 
of the sisters, who is seriously though not mortally sick. This he 
agrees to do, arguing with himself that since the latest decree regard- 
ing the confessions of nuns places the latter on the same level as 
the ordinary faithful, and since he possesses diocesan faculties, he 
may hear the confessions of nuns even within the convent. 

Question. — How is the decree Cum de Sacramentdihus of Feb. 
3, 1913, to be interpreted? 

Solution. — In addition to the decree of Feb., 1913, treating of the 
confessions of nuns, Pius X. issued a further decree, on August 5th, 
1913, which grants to approved confessors over the whole world 
the faculty of giving absolution to members of religious Orders, 
Congregations or Institutes, without being obliged to inquire whether 
permission was previously obtained by said religious or not. The 
faculty thus granted includes the power to absolve validly and 
licitly even from sins which are reserved sub censura in the Order 
or Institute. This faculty is an extension of the one which had 
been given earlier to priests residing in the Holy City. Nothing 
is said herein about hearing confessions within religious houses. 
The point touched upon is that the confessor is not obliged to 
ask whether the religious has obtained permission or not. This 
implies that the confession is heard outside of the convent. If the 
priest was hearing confessions inside the religious house we would 
have an indication that the superior had given permission for the 
procedure. Now, if we turn to the general decree of February 


1913, we read in the first paragraph that only one ordinary con- 
fessor shall be assigned to each house, unless necessity demands the 
appointment of two or more. In the fourth paragraph it is said 
that the "Ordinary will assign several priests whom the religious in 
particular cases can easily send for to hear their confessions." Now, 
are these to be reckoned as ordinary confessors? Evidently not, 
since in the first paragraph we read that each house is to have only 
one ordinary confessor. The several are not to be held as extra- 
ordinary, for the words "particular cases" rule out such an inter- 
pretation. Extraordinaries are for general, not for particular cases. 
Hence they must belong to the third class provided for in this de- 
cree, viz., to the special confessors. The decree provides for the 
calling of a special confessor at the request of a nun, "for the peace 
of her soul, or for her greater progress in spiritual perfection." 
Does this refer to any confessor who has the jurisdiction and ap- 
probation necessary to hear confession in the diocese, or does it 
refer to the several mentioned above? Upon this point there is 
some doubt. Some think it refers to any priest having jurisdiction 
and approbation; others think it excludes all but the several as- 
signed by the bishop for that purpose. To us it seems that it refers 
only to the several actually designated by the Ordinary. If not, then 
what is the reason for the appointment of the several, since they are 
neither ordinary nor extraordinary? In the fifteenth paragraph it 
is laid down that a sick sister "may call any priest approved for hear- 
ing confessions." Here it distinctly says any priest. In the preceding 
part the term any is not used, but there seems to be a connection 
between the several who are for particular cases and the special 
who are to be called at the request of the individual nun. We are 
inclined, then, to believe that any priest having jurisdiction and ap- 
probation in a diocese for the confessions of the faithful may not 


validly or licitly hear confessions within the walls of a religious 
house except in case of sickness. While nuns when absent from 
their convent may confess to any priest who can hear the confes- 
sions of the faithful, the statement that they are by recent legisla- 
tion put on a level with the faithful as regards the convent itself, 
cannot be admitted until Rome definitely pronounces upon this 



Case. — John, on one of his frequent visits to a public inn, drinks 
to excess, becomes intoxicated and falls asleep there. When he 
awakens he is sober again, proceeds to use indecent and impure 
language, and engages in a vicious quarrel with another man. 
Several days after he goes to confession, but does not mention any- 
thing of all this. The confessor, who has been informed by the 
innkeeper of John's improper behavior, is surprised that John does 
not accuse himself of the things that he did at the inn, and begins 
to question him, in a general way, about intemperance, impure 
language, etc., but John replies to all these questions that he is not 
guilty in this respect. 

Question. — It is asked whether the confessor is privileged, or 
obliged, to remind John of the happenings at the inn, and what he 
will have to do if John denies them. 

Solution. — This is a case, first, of the obligation of a confessor 
to question his penitent, and, secondly, of his privilege or obligation 
to question the penitent about a sin omitted or denied by the penitent, 
when, to the certain knowledge of the confessor, he has committed 
it. The obligation on the part of the confessor, to question the 
penitent, prevails whenever the confessor doubts, either on account 
of the confession, or on account of his private knowledge, that 
the penitent makes a complete confession, and this obligation to 
question extends to everything, but no more, that the confessor must 
know to exercise his office. In this case the confessor knows from 
private information that his penitent has committed mortal sins 
which he omits in his confession, namely, complete intoxication. 


impure talk, and vicious quarreling, all of which are objectively- 
mortal sins, though among people of low station they are often not 
considered of grave nature. The confessor is, therefore, privileged 
and obliged to inquire about these sins, not only in a general way, 
but positively and directly. Such a question can always be asked 
of a man of the station and habits of John, even if the confession 
itself does not offer a reason for the question. Such information 
cannot be regarded to have been made suh secreto, hence he may, 
and must, state that he was informed of these happenings by 
one of those present at the inn, unless of course harmful con- 
sequences are to be feared. 

What, however, is the confessor to do if the penitent denies 
these sins? Evidently the confessor cannot absolve the penitent 
if he is absolutely convinced that the penitent denies the matter in 
a sacrilegious way, if he is positive that his information was abso- 
lutely reliable, and, on the other hand, that the penitent knowingly 
and maliciously denies his guilt. Such absolute conviction, however, 
can hardly ever be secured through the statement of a third person. 
This is based by authorities of Moral Theologies on the fact that 
the informant may have been mistaken; furthermore, the penitent 
may be an invincibly ignorant person, and may even have a valid 
reason to be silent, since perhaps he has already confessed these 
sins. In this case, for instance, the innkeeper in relating the in- 
cident may have exaggerated, etc. It is possible that the patient 
does not know of his complete intoxication, he may think that he 
just fell asleep, and as far as the impure talk and the quarrel is con- 
cerned, these things may mean so little to him that he forgot all 
about them. The principle governing here will therefore be : Poeni- 
tenti credendum est tarn pro se quam contra se dicenti. This peni- 
tent will have to be absolved. 



Case. — Francis and Anna, about to be married, made their con- 
fessions on the morning of their wedding-day. Among other things 
the bride accuses herself of a grievous sin contra sextum, committed 
the previous day w^ith the bridegroom. Right after the bride, Fran- 
cis comes to confess, but makes not the least mention of the sin 
committed with Anna. The confessor, therefore, asked general 
questions in reference to the Sixth Commandment, but failed to 
elicit the least acknowledgment from Francis. Since he must pre- 
sume that the groom confesses sacrilegiously he does not absolve 
him, but with a prayer gives him the blessing which the groom 
supposes to be the absolution. 

Question. — What is to be said of the confessor's action? 

Solution. — This is a case by no means rare in practice. Concern- 
ing its solution, however, the opinions even of the greatest moralists 
differ. St. Thomas (opusc. 7 al. 12. qu. 6.) propounds the general 
principle : "In confessione est credendum peccatori confitenti et pro 
se et contra se; sed contra alium nullo modo est ei credendum: alio- 
quin daretur midtis occasio fictae confessionis et fraudidentae infa- 
mationis." According to this the confessor is in general to form 
his judgment about the penitent according to the accusation of the 
penitent himself {confitenti et pro se et contra se), not according 
to the statement of another, who possibly with deceiving or calum- 
nious intention {ficta confessio et fraudulenta infamatio) , mentions 
in his accusation the sins of another. The certainty that the con- 
fessor gains from the deposition of the penitent, is as a usual thing 
certainly greater than that which he obtains through the confession 


of another, as St. Thomas expressly sets forth (4. dist. 17 Qu. 3. art. 
3 q. 5. ad. 2.) : "Quantum ad hanc cognitionem {sc. per confessionis 
manifestationem) non potest (sacerdos) maiorem certitudinem 
accipere quam ut subdito credat, quia hoc est ad subveniendum con- 
scientiae ipsiiis; unde in foro confessionis creditur homini et pro 
se et contra se." Suarez is of the same opinion {de poenit. d. 32. j. 
3. n. 9.) : "Quantumcumque confessor sciat peccatum poenltentis ex 
aliarum relatione, tentetur in hoc iudicio magis credere ipsi poeni- 
tenti propter rationem factam." 

Therefore, if the penitent is silent about a sin of which the con- 
fessor has learned from another, then the confessor ought to assume 
that the penitent either has forgotten the sin, or has already con- 
fessed it to someone else, or has a lawful reason for keeping silent, 
or that after all the other person had erred. The confessor may 
refuse credence only when he has indubitable evidence of the sin 
which the penitent does not reveal, when, for instance, he has seen 
it with his own eyes; in this case says Suarez (/. c), "non tenetur 
ita stare dictis poenitentis ut non possit uti scientia sua ad convin- 
cendum et redarguendum ipsum poenitentem." 

These principles apply in the case that the confessor extra con- 
fessionem has learned of the penitent's sin, as also in the case that 
he knows it ex confessione alterius, as St. Thomas plainly indicates 
in his first quoted sentence (opusc. 7. al. 12. qu. 6.). 

But the circumstances may be, as in the present case, of such kind 
that the confessor knows from the confession of another the sins 
of a penitent with evident certainty, because it could not possibly be 
supposed that the first penitent would calumniate the second, nor 
that she erred, because she had taken part in the sin. Now the 
question is, can the confessor make use of this knowledge, gained 
from the confession of another, as the rule for his conduct towards 


the penitent ? We do not mean a use producing an obvious violation 
of the seal of confession, i. e., by direct reference to the accusation 
of another, or through pointed questions, from which the penitent 
may easily become suspicious that another revealed his sin. It is to 
be considered, however, whether it would not be allowable in order 
to prevent an invalid absolution on part of the confessor, to leave 
the penitent in good faith about receiving absolution, and either not 
to absolve him at all, saying a prayer instead of the absolution, or 
to absolve him suh conditione. On the one hand the confessor is 
confronted by the duty not to violate the sigillum, and to consider 
the knowledge gained as not available for his procedure, on the 
other hand it seems that the avoidance of a cooperatio ad confes- 
sionem sacrilegam is reason sufficient sine ullo gravamine poeniten- 
tis not to grant absolution or to grant it sub conditione. This is still 
a mooted question. St. Alphonsus enumerates the opinions of vari- 
ous authors and sides with Lacroix in these words : "Melius meo 
iudicio sentit Lacroix, quod eo casu nullo modo ahsolvat, sed tantiim 
aliquid oret ad occultandam negationon ah solutionis." Amongst 
the modern Moralists this view is also held by E. Miiller, who how- 
ever counsels conditional absolution when it is not certain that the 
penitent's confession is sacrilegious. Gopfert holds in principle 
that the penitent in this case is not to be absolved : "When the 
confessor knows the sin only from the confession of another, 
particularly of the participant in the sin, then without the other's 
special permission he ought not to inquire in particular about this 
sin, but should put only general questions that do not endanger a 
revelation of the other's confession. If it is quite evident that the 
penitent has sacrilegiously concealed the sin, he ought not to be 
absolved, but should receive the blessing, without telling him about 
it." When, however, such plain evidence is not practically obtaina- 


ble, as is generally the case, absolution is to be given : "And since this 
evidence cannot be established through the confession of another ex- 
clusively, the penitent is as a rule to be absolved, absolutely, if there 
is no reason to doubt his sincerity, otherwise conditionally." Noldin 
{De Sacram. n. 402) leaves the question open: "Quodsi rem non 
fateatur et plane constet poenitentem tacere peccatum commissum, 
licet ahsolutionem omittere et ad occultandam eius omissionem 
aHquas preces recitare; sed licet etiam poenitentem sive absolute 
sive conditionate ah solvere." Gury takes a somewhat different atti- 
tude in solving a similar case. The penitent not only might, but 
must — saltern probabilius — be absolved. The following reasons are 
presented: "1. Confessarius nequit uti notitia confessionis ad ne- 
gandum sacramentum alicui poenitenti. 2. Etiam admissa saltern 
probabilitate alterius sententiae, non licet uti opinione probabili in 
materia sigilli sacramentalis." Gury allows only a conditional abso- 
lution, for reasons of respect for the Sacrament; and, on the other 
hand, on account of the seal of confession and the penitent's possible 
good faith, he does not permit a denial of absolution. Bucceroni, 
giving as his authority St. Thomas, as above quoted, is in favor of 
giving absolution as a general rule. 

As in this important question the authors take no very decided 
position, it is to be recommended to absolve the penitent sub condi- 
tione, for while, on the one hand, there is good reason to doubt his 
sincerity, there is, on the other hand, the general principle : creden- 
dum poenitenti pro se et contra se. There is no violation of the 
seal of confession, because there is no revelatio peccati and no grava- 
men poenitentis. There is, however, also sufficient probability in the 
opposing opinion that one may refuse absolution, unknown to the 
penitent, the penitent being dismissed with the confessor's blessing ; 
a mala fides would at any rate make the absolution invalid. 



Case. — Paul admits in his confession that he has defrauded 
Serafino, in a business transaction, of the sum of five hundred 
dollars. He intended to make the proper restitution, but has learned 
that Serafino was lost in the Titanic disaster. He asks the confessor 
what to do about the money. Without reflecting, the priest advises 
him to give the money to charitable works. Upon his promise to do 
so, Paul receives absolution and goes his way. 

Question. — Was the decision of the priest wrong, and is he, there- 
fore, himself bound to restitution? 

Solution. — In the first place, we must note that the confessor gave 
no postive decision. He merely advised the penitent. Had he 
commanded, or obliged, Paul to give the money to the poor, his 
action would have to be judged in the light of stern theological 
principles. It is clear that the decision was given hastily and with- 
out due reflection. A little thought given to the facts would have 
resulted in an advice, or even a command, quite at variance with 
the suggestion made to the penitent. Without any doubt the money 
does not belong to the poor, but to the heirs of Serafino. Hence it 
is Paul's duty to do his best to find the heirs, and to restore to 
them his ill-gotten goods. It may be claimed that he has made 
restitution, since upon the advice of the confessor he has deprived 
himself of the stated amount for the benefit of the poor. But such 
erroneous advice, even when followed to the detriment of the one 
who seeks it, does not satisfy the obligation existing by reason of 
the original fraudulent action. As a result, Paul remains indebted 
to the heirs of Serafino, provided he can find them. His putative 
restitution was his misfortune: but he can console himself by the 


thought of the good he has done and the Lord may graciously take 
his loss as an act of atonement. In the event of his refusal to 
restore a second time, is the confessor obliged to do so for him? 
The priest when he realized his mistake should have sought out 
the penitent, and with his permission spoken of the matter and cor- 
rected his mal-advice. If he could have done so without grave in- 
convenience, and yet did not do so, then he is bound to make restitu- 
tion in case Paul refuses. This is not because of the wrong decision, 
but because of the neglect to prevent the grave detriment to Paul 
when he could easily have done so. There is reason to think, how- 
ever, that there was no grave theological fault in this particular 
case, and hence no sin upon the part of the priest ; and in that case 
no duty of restitution. Wherefore, if he could not find Paul in 
time to prevent the distribution of the money among the poor, he 
would not be bound to make good in the name of Paul. If he has 
good reason to believe that his penitent would not agree to the sec- 
ond restitution, and would feel inimical because of the erroneous 
decision, he could leave Paul in good faith, either for a time or for 
good. Hasty decisions of the confessor are full of danger and are 
prone to work evil. 



Case. — Father Caius hears Bertha's confession, and from the 
very beginning discovers that she is extremely ignorant about her 
religion. To the question, "Are there more Gods than one?" she 
answers correctly. She knows also of God's justice, of the exis- 
tence of Heaven and hell. But that is all. When asked how many 
Divine Persons there are, she becomes confused, saying first seven, 
then one, then three. The question, "Who died for us upon the 
cross?" she is unable to answer. 

Question. — What should be done with such a penitent? 

Solution. — Father Caius should admonish this ignorant penitent 
of her obligation to receive religious instruction, and the admin- 
istration of the Sacrament should be postponed until due instruction 
has been imparted. If the confessor foresees that on account 
of shyness or other obstacles she would not come to be instructed, 
or if perhaps he will not be able later to instruct her himself, for 
instance, if he is a missionary, then he must not dismiss her, saying 
that he can do nothing with her, that she must seek instruction, but 
he must then and there teach her the most necessary truths (S. 
Alph. L. VI.608). 

Indispensably necessary for the validit)'- of absolution is the 
knowledge of the existence of one God and of His justice (Heb., 
II. 6). Whether the knowledge of the Divine Trinity and of the 
Incarnation is indispensably necessary (necessitate medii) is a mat- 
ter of dispute among theologians. A list of literature on this point 
we find in S. Alphonsus L. II. n. 2. Since probably the confessor 
is pressed for time he may content himself by making Bertha ac- 


quainted hie et nunc with the last-mentioned two articles of faith; 
then, in regard to knowledge of the mysteries of the faith, she is 
capable of receiving absolution. It is not necessary to impart instruc- 
tion strictly according to the catechism. Caius may say : "You know 
that there is but one God. But there are three Divine Persons. 
How many Divine Persons are there ? They are called Father, Son, 
Holy Ghost. What are they ?" In the same way he should instruct 
and question her concerning the Incarnation. 

In the event of Bertha having gone to confession often before, 
it may be presumed that the confessors did their duty as doctores. 
What, however, is to be done if it becomes apparent that Bertha has 
not been questioned by any confessor, much less instructed? Bal- 
lerini is of opinion that, according to the principles of probability, 
the ignorance of the mysteries in question would not necessitate a 
repetition of previous confessions, and in support of his decision he 
quotes St. Alphonsus L. VI. n. 505 : "Advertendum, non esse cogen- 
dos poenitentes ad repetendas confessiones, nisi morcditer certo 
constet, eas fuisse invalidas." The Saint, however, does not seem 
to allow the application of this procedure to a case like ours, be- 
cause he calls the view of the necessity {necessitate medii) of the 
distinct knowledge of both mysteries communior et (videtur) pro- 
babilior, and concludes his investigation with the following words : 
"Quapropter, cum ipse adverterit, confessicnem siiam oh ignoraur- 
tiam mysteriorum SS. Trinitatis, aut Incarnationis Jesu Chrisii 
fuisse prohahiliter validam, sed etiam prohahiliter mdlam, tenetur, 
postquam de illis mysteriis instrucfus fuerif, confessionem iterare." 
In these two points made by St. Alphonsus there is no contradiction, 
they are in perfect accord. In L. VI. 505, he treats of certain acts 
which the penitent positively performed and in regard to them ap- 
plies the principle "in dublo praesumitur rite factum, quod factum 


est" as also "in diibio standum est pro valore actus." The teaching 
of St. Alphonsus on the point referred to is strictly in accordance 
with this principle. In L. II. 2, namely, in our case, he treats of 
something quite different, namely of a subjectum capax or incapax 
Sacramenti. Here there can be no presumption of validity. Here 
comes into consideration the proposition condemned by Innocent 
XL "Non est illicitum in Sacramentis conferendis sequi opinionem 
probabilem de valore Sacramenti, relicta tiitiori." Therefore the 
Saint insists upon the iteratio confessionis (cf. L. I. 48. H. A, I. 
25). Moreover, probably every conscientious confessor, guided by 
Ballerini, would cause Bertha to repeat her confessions, as this 
course evidently would present no particular difficulty and in praxi 
one prefers to choose the safer way. 



Case. — Assuredly habitual drunkards are no small trial to the 
confessor, especially when they make not the slightest attempt at 
amendment. How is this class of habitual sinners to be treated 
in confessionalif We have here in mind the notorious drunkard 
who adds to his guilt by giving scandal to others. In his work 
on Moral, Noldin says on this subject: "Recidivi in ebrietafe et 
qua tales publice noti, qui singulis fere hehdomadis vel saepius 
adhuc se inehriant, non omnino a Sacramentis repellendi, sed ordi- 
narie nee statim ad ilia admittendi sunt. Non primum, quia de 
nullius hominis emendatione desperandum est; non alterum, im- 
primis quia ahsolvi nequit, qui post breve tempus propositum viola- 
turus praevidetur, nisi urgeat necessitas: etenim timendum esset 
scandalum, si statim post suscepta sacramenta relaberetur ; deinde 
quia publicum scandalum antea reparari debet. Itaque ejusmodi 
poenitenti differenda est absolutio, donee aliquatenus saltern se 
emendaverit. Quin etiam in casu, quo ob extraordinarium signum 
poenitentiae statim absolutus fuisset, praestat, eum non statim ad 
s. communionem admittere, turn ut publicum scandalum reali emen- 
datione interim reparetur, tum ut scandalum ex relapsu forte ori- 
turum praecaveatur" (Summa Theol. Mor. ed. V. P. III. n. 411). 

Question. — What about the matter when there is question of the 
Easter Confession? 

Solution. — This kind of habitual sinner usually comes to con- 
fession only at Easter. Assuredly even then a recidivus ex genere 
ebriorum must not be absolved if the confessor has reason to 


doubt his disposition. Such doubt is certainly present if the peni- 
tent on his part has done nothing to reform, and has not avoided 
the occasions. It would be wrong to think "if he is disposed 
hie et nunc then with a good conscience I can give him absolution." 
True, every habitual or occasional sinner may be absolved if only 
in actu he is disposed, and may be regarded as such by the confes- 
sor, even if later the penitent does not amend, and the confessor 
foresees that he will relapse into his former habits. "Recidivus, 
qui prudenter dispo situs judicatur, per se semper ahsolvi potest: 
qui etiim vere judicari potest dispositus, ahsolvi potest, licet reci- 
divus sit: ad validam enim et licitam ahsolutionem aliud non re- 
quiritur, nisi ut actu dispositus sit; ad veram dispositionem autem 
non requiritur futura emendatio, neque illam impedit praevisio fu- 
turi relapsus" {Ibidem, n. 410). "Occasionarius et recidivus sem- 
per ahsolvi potest, modo a confessario prudenter judicari possit 
vere dispositus, qualecumque sit signum, in quo fundetur ejus judi- 
cium: sive ordinarium sive extraordinarium, sive poenitens ad con- 
fessionem illud attulerit sive in confessione ad monitionem confes- 
sarii tandem exhihuerit" {Ibid., n. 411). 

But now I ask: may a recidivus, as in our case, who for years, 
perhaps, has given his confessor empty promises, and has made 
no earnest attempt or hardly any to break with his sinful habit, 
be regarded, prudenter, as vere dispositus? How, then, may a 
confessor absolve such a one simply because he appears disposed 
hie et nunc? (Unfortunately there are confessors who absolve 
everyone if only they say "yes." It is hardly necessary to remark 
that such administration of the tribunal of Penance is in damnum 
perhaps even in perditionem animarum.) There could be only one 
valid reason to exercise clemency in the case of such a penitent, 
and that is the periculum diffamationis, in the event of his not 


being absolved. But this is not as bad as it seems at first sight. 
If in a town a habitual drunkard is publicly known as such, then 
there can no longer be talk of defaming. 

However, if the confessor believes for good reasons that he 
ought to absolve him, then he should likewise permit him to receive 
holy Communion; for though Noldin considers it prudent not to 
admit a notorious drunkard at once to holy Communion, even if 
he has been absolved propter signum extraordinarium poenitentiae, 
still on occasion of the Easter Communion a milder interpretation 
may prevail; on the one hand quia urget praeceptum, and, on the 
other, because the faithful take less scandal, just because it is the 
Easter Communion. 



Case. — Anna has a great desire for Christian perfection. Ac- 
cordingly she goes to confession every week, and receives Holy 
Communion daily, whenever possible, hoping thus to attain by sac- 
ramental graces a steadily increasing purity of heart. The results, 
however, do not meet her expectations, she is conscious of still pos- 
sessing many faults, hence she loses courage and weakens in her 

Question. — How should a confessor treat his penitent in order to 
encourage her faithful adherence to the practice of daily Com- 
munion ? 

Solution. — In the well-known decree of December 20, 1905, hope 
is expressed that Communicants who receive daily, with the right 
dispositions and in the state of grace, may also gradually avoid 
venial sins. Anna desires to be freed of her faults, hence her zeal 
in receiving the Sacraments. She had hoped to draw this fruit 
quickly from daily Communion, but she is disappointed in her 
expectations. The confessor, as a wise physician of the soul, must, 
before all things, inquire into the causes of this disappointment. 
Possibly it is brought about by the fact that her expectations were 
exaggerated, or even presumptuous. Anna believed that she would 
be freed not only from all sins, but even from all imperfections. As 
imperfections, the moralists designate either acts or omissions con- 
trary, not to a positive commandment, but to a counsel ; another 
definition classes them as violations of the moral law which are quite 
involuntary, such as distraction in prayer, involuntary emotions of 


anger, envy, etc., and, in general, all faults that proceed from guilt- 
less ignorance or inattention. This latter definition, where there is 
discussion of the difference between imperfections and venial sins, 
is to be preferred to the former, since imperfections in the first 
sense are not always free from real sin, while, as defined in the other 
sense, they never include guilt. To free one's self by degrees from 
such imperfections, in as far as this is possible to human beings, 
should be the endeavor of every Christian, but he should not forget 
that he can never achieve this perfectly in this life. Perfect purity 
is exclusively the privilege of the spirits dwelhng in Heaven; on 
earth even the just have always occasion to accuse themselves of 
moral shortcomings, and to lament with the Apostle: "Who will 
deliver me from the body of this death?" 

It would be presumptuous to insist on the gift of angelic purity, 
and it would surely lead to various errors. To a penitent with such 
aspirations St. Francis of Sales gave the admonition, "Often we 
take pains to become good angels, and in our zeal we neglect to be 
good men and good women." He pointed out the importance of 
being patient with oneself: "Patience is that virtue which most as- 
sures us perfection. We must practice it in dealing with others, but 
it is equally necessary to exercise it with ourselves. Those who 
aspire to a perfect charity, must have more patience with themselves 
than with others. We must endure our imperfections in order to 
gain perfection." 

With venial sins it is different. These are more or less voluntary 
violations of the moral law, for this reason they offend God, and 
in this aspect they are to be abhorred as a positive evil. While in 
this life it is not possible to avoid always even the least of venial 
sins, yet it is possible to lessen their number, or to keep oneself 
entirely free from a certain species of them. That the penitent may 


never become lax in this endeavor, should be the special solicitude 
of the confessor. He will, in order to avoid the rock of extreme 
severity, and in order to discourage neither himself nor his penitent, 
clearly distinguish between sins of frailty and sins that result from 
a perversity of the will, or from bad habits. Even the saints were 
not wholly free from sins of frailty; they, too, had to confess with 
St. James : "In multis offendimus omnes." Such faults enter only 
too easily into our minds, actions and omissions ; they can, however, 
be just as easily wiped out again, especially through prayer, as St. 
Augustine teaches: "De quotidianis brevibus levibusque peccatis, 
sine quibus haec vita non ducitur, quotidiana fidelium oratio satis- 
facit . . . delet omnino haec oratio minima et quotidiana peccata," 
Ench. 71. As a matter of fact these very faults of weakness work 
for the good of those who truly love God ; for as they are thus con- 
tinually reminded of their frailty, they are more firmly imbued with 
an humble self-knowledge. P. Scupoli tell us how advantageous is 
this knowledge of our faults : "O happy knowledge (of our frailty) 
which sanctifies us in this world, and uplifts us to the glory of 
Heaven! O splendid light, proceeding from the darkness and 
flooding the soul with celestial clarity! O hidden pearl, shining 
forth from our obscurity! O nothingness that uplifts us to the pos- 
session of all things!" If the saints received extraordinary graces 
from God, not a little of this was due to the fact that they chose to 
give themselves up to the contemplation of their own nothingness, 
and fostered within themselves the spirit of humility and contrition. 

Upon this important point Anna must be enlightened so that what 
should really inspire confidence and courage may not become a 
cause for discouragement. 

When, however, there is question of faults arising from perver- 
sity of will, and deliberately committed, then the case assumes 


anotner aspect. A spiritual condition of this kind requires careful 
treatment on the part of the confessor. 

How harmful such faults are to our striving for virtue is aptly 
told by P. Lancicius. He vi^rites, in the introduction to an exhaus- 
tive treatise upon venial sins : "During the forty-seven years of my 
priesthood, I have been at different times the spiritual director of 
lay persons and of Religious. In this work I was made aware that 
many persons received great graces from the Lord, but with the 
greater number I saw that they received lesser graces than the Di- 
vine bounty would have poured out upon them if they had been 
more diligent in avoiding numerous venial sins, especially those 
committed with deliberation." 

Should the confessor perceive that Anna is enmeshed in faults 
of this kind, that she commits certain faults from habit, then he will, 
first of all, prescribe the remedies needed against her shortcomings, 
and impress upon her the conscientious use of the same. Some 
pious, but little instructed, persons fall into the error that sacra- 
mental grace will do all and that it will suffice to receive Communion 
frequently in order to attain the heights of Christian perfection. If 
Anna sincerely desires to be cured of moral ills she will assuredly 
show her good will by a diligent use of the prescribed remedies, and 
thus gradually attain the desired goal. Should Anna, however, 
manifest a lack of good intention, by neglecting to cooperate with 
sacramental grace by her own suitable effort, then the prudent con- 
fessor will regard her case as critical, and, if necessary, treat her 
with warranted severity. Such souls are frequently in grave dan- 
ger of straying afar from the path of virtue. In the case of such 
persons the question arises: Have they, indeed, the pious disposi- 
tion, which is before all things requisite for daily Communion? Are 
they, indeed, in the state of grace? Admittedly they will not com- 


mit any sin which they regard as a grievous sin. Yet, what security 
is there, in their deplorable condition, that their supposedly venial 
sins are not really mortal sins, or at least will not soon lead to such ? 
In judging sinful acts, which Moralists hold to be grievous sins ex 
genere suo, which, however, may be slight on account of parvitas 
materiae, it is often very difficult to define the borderline that di- 
vides venial sins and grievous ones, and, since even the most skilled 
Casuists often admit their inability to distinguish in this matter, 
how can a person, less well-informed, without conscious self-decep- 
tion claim that this borderline has not been overstepped, when she 
has over and over again sinned deliberately against charity, justice, 
etc.? Moreover the neglected grace is gradually withdrawn from 
the tepid soul, and the Divine warning is being fulfilled which was 
pronounced upon the Bishop of Ephesus : "Because thou art tepid 
I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth." There is, finally a 
particular point to be taken into consideration regarding such per- 
sons. Not infrequently the habitual faults of those avowing the 
aspiration to a devout life are yielding scandal. Their lack of char- 
ity, of fidelity to duty, of humility, meekness, etc., casts not seldom 
a dark shadow upon piety itself and brings it into discredit. The 
scandal which the world takes at the devout is surely often a Phari- 
saical scandal-taking, their malice gleefully making small faults the 
occasion for vilification of all religion. Unfortunately, however, 
there is sometimes real scandal of this sort which the confessor 
must combat with energy. Should all his endeavors fail, then he 
must not hesitate to keep such persons, who evidently misuse the 
sacraments, from approaching them until they are induced to make 
a better use of the same. 



Case. — Claudia, a very sensible and staid woman, tells her con- 
fessor the following experience : "A few weeks ago my mother, a 
very conscientious and devout person, died suddenly. Night before 
last she appeared to me — I was wide awake — her expression was 
sad and troubled; after a short while she spoke to me, saying that 
she had to endure great suffering in purgatory, and she asked me to 
have a Mass said for her on a privileged altar, to offer up Com- 
munion five times, to make the Stations of the Cross once, and to say 
the rosary on three consecutive Saturdays. Then she vanished. This 
apparition was quite unforeseen and made a profound and painful 
impression upon me, so that I feel impelled to comply with her re- 
quest. To-day I wish to begin with offering up Holy Communion. 
But first I would ask you to tell me whether I am allowed to heed 
the apparition and the request." 

Solution. — The chief points which the confessor must here con- 
sider are the following : 

1. The confessor is not at liberty to doubt the possibility of such 
apparitions {Deo sic volente), or abruptly to declare them a case of 
superstition. There are many, of course, who deny the possibility 
of such apparitions, and who speak of them in terms of derision and 
mockery ; but if we inquire from what kind of people such denun- 
ciation emanates we find they are those who deny the existence of 
God, and the immortality of the soul, or purgatory, or at least doubt 
these fundamental truths ; or those infected by the canker of ration- 
alism, who therefore thrust from them everything belonging to the 


realm of the supernatural. The opinion of such persons is of no 
value in the present case. 

That an intercourse may take place between the world of spirits 
and the world of men is plainly evident from the first to the last 
page of the Bible. It begins with the appearance of the devil in 
Paradise, and concludes with the apparition of the Angel to the seer 
of Patmos. Also there is evidence of apparitions of departed 
human souls. Judas Machabeus had in a dream a vision of two 
saints long departed, the high priest Onias and the prophet Jere- 
mias, the latter handing him a golden sword for the holy combat, 
and the author of the book calls this dream worthy of belief (cf. II. 
Mach. 15, 11). At the transfiguration of Christ on Tabor there 
appeared Moses and Elias; the three disciples, Peter, James, and 
his brother John, beheld them and heard them converse with the 
Lord (cf. Matt. 17, 1). At the resurrection of the Redeemer many 
saints left their tombs and appeared to many persons in Jerusalem 
{cf. Matt. 17, 53). Why, then, might not the souls in purgatory by 
Divine permission or disposition, appear to the living, be it to in- 
voke their assistance, or to bring them a Divine warning concerning 
their salvation ? 

But it is not Holy Writ alone that gives evidence of the possi- 
bility of a communication between the spirit world and that of 
men; we have from all centuries of the Church most credible wit- 
nesses to this fact, among them persons of high standing in the 
Church. Regarding the abundant and unimpeachable testimony of 
these credible persons, who either relate such appearances from 
irrefutable sources, as, for instance, Saint Peter Damian (Opusc: 
xxxiv.), or to whom such visions appeared, as Saint Theresa, the 
theologians say: "It is certain that the souls suffering in pur- 
gatory have appeared at times to the eyes of their friends and rela- 


tions, with sad and troubled mien, in order to implore of them 
their prayers and their intercession." (Scaramelli.) St. Thomas of 
Aquin thus declares himself on this subject: "We must distinguish 
regarding the departed souls as to what happens to them according 
to the laws of nature and according to the dispositions of Divine 
providence, because, as St. Augustine says, different are the limita- 
tions of things human, different the manifestations of Divine power, 
different what happens in the natural order, and different the mirac- 
ulous. According to the natural order, the departed souls, after they 
have been placed by God in their abode, are barred from association 
with the living. Divine Providence, however, permits them at times 
to leave their abode to appear to the eyes of men, as is related by 
St. Augustine of the martyr Felix, who appeared visibly to the citi- 
zens of Nola, when they were beset by their enemies. We may fur- 
ther believe that the souls undergoing punishment are sometimes 
allowed to appear to the living, either for the instruction and warn- 
ing of men, or, in the case of those in purgatory, to implore aid, as 
is proved by many incidents related by St. Gregory the Great {Suppl. 
qu. 69. a. 3). St. Augustine terms it a "great impertinence" to> de- 
clare such apparitions impossible, since so many proofs and so many 
men inspired by the spirit of God can be quoted for their actual 
occurrence. {"Magnae impudentiae est, negare animas identidem 
e suis sedihus ad nos eniitti cum tot viri sapientes et Deo pleni idip- 
sum ratione et experimento comprohent suo." De cura pro mor- 
tuis.) Similarly writes Benedict XIV, in his work on the canoniza- 
tion and beatification of the servants of God. Hence Dr. Ernest 
Miiller teaches : "Certum est, mortuorum apparitiones esse possibiles 
quia et angeli licet spiritus sint, apparent — et quia phirimas mor- 
tuorum apparitiones genuina historia refert." 
2. In the case of an apparition of a suffering soul from purgatory, 


inquiry must be made whether there are circumstances that point to 
superstition, or otherwise render the matter suspicious. 

Suspicious would be the desire for such an apparition; it would 
point to presumption, or to idle curiosity, even to conceit. Such 
coveting excites the imagination, so that one readily sees and hears 
the desired things, moreover God may permit in punishment of 
such sins a mockery by evil spirits. While evil spirits, as St. Augus- 
tine, St. Chrysostom, St. Thomas and other theologians teach, can- 
not cite the souls of the departed either from purgatory or from 
hell, they may assume their shapes, and thus deceive the curious. 
A second, even more important point, is, that the persons who claim 
that a soul from purgatory has appeared to them, have done noth- 
ing to bring it about, have not employed superstitious means, that 
the purpose of the vision is a good one, that the speech of the appa- 
rition contains nothing contrary to faith or good morals, nor is other- 
wise suspicious. The temperament of the persons who have had 
visions must also be taken into account; it makes a great difference 
whether they are inclined to superstition, or credulous and easily 
deceived, whether they deserve belief, or whether they have a well- 
deserved reputation for fibbing. It would be well for the confes- 
sor to ask this woman what impression the vision made upon her. 
If she feels confirmed in the faith, and induced to acts of piety and 
charity, this will speak in its favor. Finally, it is to be ascertained 
whether the woman was convinced from the beginning of the truth 
of the apparition. If God permits or wills a suffering soul in purga- 
tory to appear to friend or relative, it may be assumed that God 
also grants to the person certainty about the truth of the apparition. 

If all these points are ascertained to be favorable, the confessor 
may regard the apparition as probable and so inform his penitent, 
all the more as she obediently submits the matter for his decision. 


3. To render a positive decision as to whether one of the poor 
souls had really appeared to a penitent will be very difficult for the 
confessor, even if the facts favor such a decision. Such decision, 
moreover, is not necessary; a well-grounded probability is sufficient 
warrant to tell the penitent that she will not be guilty of superstition 
if she accepts the truth of the apparition, and to admonish her to ful- 
fill the request of the poor soul, all the more so when the things re- 
quested are most worthy, and certainly very beneficial to the souls in 
purgatory. After the penitent has performed the good works asked 
for, she should not fail to continue her prayers for this soul, even if 
the soul appears a second time and declares that she is released 
from purgatory. No matter how we might wish to believe the truth 
of such a message, there is not such certainty as to exclude all pos- 
sibility of delusion. Hence in order to prevent a detriment to the 
departed, the penitent should offer her prayers and good works with 
the intention that if this particular soul no longer needs them, God 
may accept them for other souls. Caution should be exercised not 
to talk freely about the vision, as such things are not rightly com- 
prehended by everybody. 

4. If the confessor perceives that the apparition as related by the 
woman is connected with suspicious circumstances, he must give his 
penitent the necessary admonition ; he must reprove the undue curi- 
osity of which she probably has been guilty, also point out how 
dangerous such undue desire is, and forbid everything that savors 
of superstition or fortune-telling, etc., move her to contrition and 
good resolutions, and exhort her to confine herself to the prayers 
and good works practised and prescribed by the Church. 

From the above follows the answer to the question asked about this 
case. There seems to be nothing here to arouse suspicion and cir- 
cumstances seem to favor the conclusion that there was an appari- 


tion. The request made of Claudia corresponds perfectly to the 
practise of the Church. 

A confessor will do well to be slow in giving belief to reports of 
apparitions, because while they may happen, they happen very 
rarely. On the other hand, deception and illusion are easily pos- 
sible. It would be an error to deny the possibility of such appari- 
tions, but it would also be a grave error to believe too readily the 
reports of such apparitions, as for one thing it would certainly pro- 
mote superstition. 



Case. — Columbanus, a priest in good standing, passing along the 
street, is accosted by a layman, who after a few minutes' conversa- 
tion requests the priest to hear his confession then and there. After 
some hesitation, the priest does so, and finding no reserved case, 
he imparts absolution. 

Question. — Did Father Columbanus act correctly under these 
circumstances ? 

Solution. — The sacred character of the Sacrament of Penance 
demands that the graces of the Sacrament should be imparted in a 
solemn and sacred way. Hence the Church has determined that all 
confessions are ordinarily to be heard in a church; by the name 
church are not to be understood private oratories ; hence confessions 
are not to be heard in private oratories, unless special permission be 
granted by the Bishop of the Diocese for such a practice. The 
Councils of Baltimore are explicit enough on this point, and they 
authoritatively declare that confessionals are to be erected in all 
churches in suitable and convenient places, where the faithful may 
reverently receive the holy Sacrament of Penance. Strictly speak- 
ing, then, confessions are not to be heard outside of a church unless 
circumstances are otherwise than ordinary. On the other hand, all 
authorities concede that in the presence of extraordinary conditions 
confessions may be heard anywhere, provided the place be in keep- 
ing with the dignity of the Sacrament; this demands, as the mini- 
mum, that the place be "decent." Of course, in cases of urgent 
necessity, as in the presence of danger of death, the spiritual welfare 
of the soul will call for the administration of the Sacrament any- 
where. As to the present case, it must be said that the practice of 


hearing confessions on the street, when there is no question of 
danger of death, is not to be countenanced. It can easily be seen 
that, were such a procedure admitted as a general thing, the way 
would be opened to extreme carelessness, and no proper safeguard 
could then be provided whereby the reverence due to the Sacra- 
ment, as a grace-giving institution of Christ, could be maintained. 
Hence the Church has wisely legislated against such a custom. 

However, it cannot be denied that there may be times, not speaking 
of the needs of the moribund, when it would not be illicit to hear 
confessions outside of a church, and even on the street. Where 
there is a sufficiently grave reason, the Church would not be against 
the imparting of absolution (per modum actionis) even on the 
street. If, for instance, a man found himself in mortal sin, and to 
remain in that condition for any length of time grievously disturbed 
him; or if he had to go on a Journey of duty, exposing himself to 
danger on the way, and if in neither case he could go to a church 
to make his confession, assuredly he would be justified in confessing 
even on the street. He might be a sea-voyager, about to take ship 
for a distant land, and by reason of lack of time unable to go to a 
church. He would be compelled to sail the ocean with his soul 
burdened by sin, unless he could confess to a priest whom he for- 
tunately meets on the dock. To take advantage of his opportunity 
to remove his grave spiritual danger would undoubtedly be justi- 
fiable. The action of Columbanus would have to be judged in the 
light of the principles just set forth. If grave and weighty reasons 
were present, his action was licit, but it was illicit in the absence of 
sufficient reason. Indiscriminate hearing of confessions on the street 
cannot be defended against the positive legislation of the Church 
determining the proper place for the reverential administration 
on this Sacrament. 



Case.— A regiment of Catholic soldiers, doing service "somewhere 
in France," is called upon to engage in active strife. Patritius, their 
chaplain, realizing the impossibility of hearing the soldiers' con- 
fessions individually before the hour appointed for them to take 
their places in the trenches at the front, acted as follows : 

In a brief sermon he counseled them to make sincere acts of con- 
trition, and assured them that he would pronounce over them the 
words of general common absolution and exhorted them to ap- 
proach the altar for the reception of Holy Communion, and in- 
structed them to go to confession in the ordinary way the first 
opportunity they had, should any of them survive the danger which 
then threatened them. 

Questions. — (i) Could Patritius validly and licitly give absolu- 
tion to a multitude by pronouncing the formula once only, provided 
that a change be made from the singular to the plural number where 
required? (2) Did Patritius act rightly in administering Com- 
munion to the soldiers thus absolved? (3) Should he have in- 
sisted upon a subsequent integral confession if opportunity were 
given them to make such a confession? (4) What should be said 
about the question of the fast? 

Ad I. Patritius could validly and licitly absolve in the manner 
described. All the requisite conditions for valid absolution are 
present in the case, and necessity guarantees its licitness. (Cf. 
Sabetti-Barrett-Z)^ Forma Sacramenti Poenit, p. 643, res. ad Quar. 


Ad 2. Patritius did act rightly in exhorting the soldiers to re- 
ceive Holy Communion. In the declaration of the Sacra Poeniten- 


tiaria Apostolica dated Feb. 6, 1915, it is expressly stated: Nihil 
obstare quominns sic absoluti in praefatis adjunctis ad sacram Eur- 
charistiam suscipiendam admittantur. 

Ad 3. In the same declaratio just cited it is prescribed as fol- 
lows: Ne omitfant vero cappcllani militum, data opportunitate, eos 
docere dbsolutionem sic impertiendam non esse profuturam, nisi 
rite dispositi fuerint, iisdemque obligationem manere integram con- 
fesslonem suo tempore peragendi, si periculum evaserint. 

Ad 4. A decree of the Sacra Congregatio, De disciplina Sacra- 
mentorum, dated Feb. 11, 1915, reads as follows: Milites ad proe- 
lium vocatos {i soldati sual fronte) admitti posse, servatis servan 
dis, ad Sacram Mensam Eucharisticam, per modum viatici. 

Communio per modum viatici may be given to persons not fasting. 
In the case in question there may be no possibility, at least without 
a very great inconvenience, of observing the jejimium naturale. 
Hence the soldiers may approach Communion even though not 
fasting. (Noldin — De Subjecto Eucharistiae, No. 154. Sabetti- 
Barrett, p. 579, res. ad Quaer. 10.) 



Case. — Felix, a country pastor, holds the devotion of the Forty 
Hours regularly, as required by the law of his diocese. The Blessed 
Sacrament is exposed all day and reposed at night. But the pastor 
is much disturbed because during the day, and for many hours, the 
Divine King is left absolutely without an adorer. His people live 
at a distance and cannot, or will not, desert their work to spend an 
hour or two with the Lord. They are very faithful in coming in 
the evening to the devotions, and nearly all approach the Sacraments 
during this time of special grace. But it is impossible to bring 
even a small number during the day to "watch and pray." The 
pastor himself must spend all the day as the guard of honor. He 
wishes to know whether or not he could repose the Blessed Sacra- 
ment during the day and expose it for the usual devotions in the 
evening, when the good people throng the church, often coming for 
miles around. 

Solution. — It seems that conditions such as just described are quite 
prevalent in rural districts. We think that under the circumstances, 
it is the pastor's duty to consult the bishop, and, having informed 
him of the case, to abide by his decision. The pastor cannot of his 
own authority solve the difficulty in his own way. It would not be 
unreasonable for him to repose the Blessed Sacrament after the 
morning Mass when the people return to their homes, but the further 
question of the spiritual good, that is, in the present case, the indul- 
gences, which are extraordinary during the Forty Hours devotion, 
is not to be forgotten. In the Instruction of the Congregation of 
Rites concerning this devotion the rule was laid down that the 


adoration should not be interrupted. Hence in religious houses the 
custom prevails of nocturnal adoration. The Sacred Congregation 
ultimately allowed an interruption and sanctioned nocturnal reposi- 
tion, and granted an indult safeguarding the extraordinary indul- 
gences of the devotion. It is clear that such a concession would not 
include the interruption suggested by our country pastor. Hence 
were he to adopt the above-mentioned practice he would seriously 
interfere with the much-sought-for indulgence. This would not be 
fair to the people of the parish who, out of their devotion, make the 
sacrifices entailed in their effort to gain the indulgence, and who, if 
they knew that they could not gain their object, might be loathe to 
attend even the evening devotions. Hence, the only thing the pastor 
can do is to see his bishop and let him, through his ordinary or 
extraordinary faculties, solve the difficulty and sanction the practice. 



Case. — Last summer, while railroading through England, Father 
Titus journeyed with some Irish soldiers who were bound for the 
front. Their splendid devotion to Mary Immaculate showed itself 
in the scapular which they were proudly wearing. Some, who 
had no scapulars, asked the priest for a pair, but as he had none 
with him, he determined to give them medals from Lourdes which 
had been blessed at the shrine, and which he again blessed before 
giving to them. He knew that the Holy See had allowed the 
use of medals in place of the scapular, so his mind was at ease. 
Since then Father Titus has heard that only special medals can 
be used for the gaining of the scapular indulgence. 

Question. — Did Father Titus do right? 

Solution. — Father Titus' action was sacerdotal and praiseworthy. 
The simple faith and prayerfulness of the soldiers going to the front 
must have been pleasing to Almighty God, and it surely won for 
them at least the spiritual protection of the Mother of Christ, whom 
they intended to honor by scapular or medal. Yet it does not 
follow that they gained the scapular indulgence. The fact that the 
medal was from Lourdes and had been blessed there does not attach 
to it the indulgence granted by Pius X. in 1910. The conditions 
imposed by the Pope for the gaining of the indulgence have to be 
met. In general these conditions are: (1) Enrollment in the 
scapular by a priest having the proper faculties. (2) Wearing 
of the scapular, or of its substitute, the medal. (3) Blessing of 
the medal as prescribed. (4) The medal to be of the type deter- 
mined by the Holy See and commonly known as the scapular medal. 
If all these conditions were fulfilled, then the soldiers could 


gain the indulgence given for the wearing o£ the scapular. That 
they were not, is rendered certain by the fact that the medal given 
by the priest was a Lourdes medal and not a scapular medal. Again, 
the question arises as to the faculties of the priest. Did he have 
the necessary faculties for blessing scapular medals? In March, 
1912, concessions were made in favor of soldiers {suh armis), but 
even here the medal of investment had to be blessed by a priest 
having such faculties. In November, 1914, Benedict XV. granted 
faculties to all priests, even to those who are not approved for the 
hearing of Confessions, whereby they may bless and indulgence 
the scapular medal. This concession is granted only in favor of 
soldiers, and of those soldiers whose countries are at war, and is 
to last only for the duration of the war. It is to be noted again 
that only the regular scapular medal can be blessed under this 
extension of faculties. Any priest, from, or in, any country, can 
bless these medals, provided they are intended for soldiers under 
arms of the nations at war. Hence this indulgence of the scapular, 
even in these days, is not effective in relation to the Lourdes medal. 



Case. — Orlandus, grievously sick, was given the last sacraments 
in the morning by his parish priest. In the course of the same 
morning he sends for Raymond, another priest, and confesses with 
tears that in his confession the same morning he had purposely 
omitted a mortal sin, and hence had received the last sacraments 

Question. — What obligations arise therefrom: 

1. For the sick Orlandus. 

2, For the confessor Raymond? 
Solution : 

1. Orlandus manifestly is guilty of a threefold sacrilege, and 
has not fulfilled the Divine and ecclesiastical law of confessing his 
grievous sins in immediate danger of death and of receiving the 
holy Viaticum, for here, even more than in the case of the Easter 
Communion, the obligation is not satisfied by an unworthy recep- 
tion, as is evident from the nature of the matter and also from 
the 55th of the propositions rejected by Innocent XI. (Denzinger, 
No. 1205). Hence, Orlandus is obliged, under grievous sin, to 
confess his sins validly and to receive worthily the holy Viaticum. 
As regards the Sacrament of Extreme Unction, the dying man is 
not strictly obliged per se to receive the same, as St. Thomas 
and St. Alphonsus (L. VI. n. 733 seq.) cum sententia comniuni 
teach, although a case when one per accidens is strictly obliged 
thereto may not infrequently occur. 

Even though Orlandus received Extreme Unction unworthily, 


the sacrament was valid, and only its effects remain suspended 
owing to lack of the necessary disposition of the recipient. These 
effects become actual when the disposition previously lacking is pro- 
duced, either by an imperfect contrition (attritio) combined with 
actual reception of the Sacrament of Penance, or by a perfect con- 
trition coupled with intention to confess {per contritionem cum 
voto sacramenti) as is taught by theologians as so well founded an 
opinion that it may be regarded practically as certain. (Compare 
St. Alphonsus L. VI. n. 87 seq.) Therefore, in our case Extreme 
Unction need not be repeated, and would according to the Ritual 
be even unlawful : since in one and the same illness Extreme Unction 
must not be repeated unless the illness is of long duration, or unless 
the patient had meanwhile recovered, and is again in danger of 

2. About the obligations, which the confessor Raymond has to 
fulfil, the following points should be noted: (a) Since he is not 
the parish priest of Orlandus his obligation to help the sick man 
out of his difficulty is not based upon motives of justice, but there 
is the obligation of charity, (b) This help consists before all in 
assisting the patient to make a good confession. This he may do 
without knowledge or permission of the parish priest, as it is 
generally taught that in the case of confessions of the sick, any 
approved priest, also any Order priest approved by the bishop, may 
in the diocese approbantis episcopi exercise his jurisdiction at all 
times and everywhere, without requiring the special permission of 
the sick man's pastor or of his bishop : but in such cases the pastor 
should be made aware that the confession has been heard -"saltern 
per scripturam apud ipsum infirmum relinquendam" (Clement X., 
July 21, 1670). This notice to the pastor is in our case manifestly 
to be omitted, in order not to put opprobrium upon the penitent. 


(c) Regarding a repeated administration of the Viaticum, it is 
certain that the sacrilegiously received Communion does not, like 
Extreme Unction, produce its effects of grace subsequently when 
the lacking disposition has been supplied (S. Alph. L. VI. n. 87 
cum sententia commimi) and, therefore, it is necessary, unless 
special difficulties produce a moral impossibility which excus@6. 
This necessity of again receiving the Viaticum is not to be urged 
upon one who is not aware of this obligation if there is reason to 
fear that, to the evident danger of his salvation, he would mala 
fide refuse to comply, as Lehmkuhl and others rightly observe. 

If the dying man cannot be expected to live another day, a 
difficulty would occur in our case, with regard to the Church 
prohibition concerning the reception of holy Communion twice on 
one and the same day. But this difficulty disappears if we apply 
here the evidently correct principle : majus est praeceptum divinum 
sumendi viaticum, quam prohibitio ecclessiae bis in die communi- 

A further difficulty lies in the danger for the secret of confession 
and the good name of Orlandus if on the same or on the following 
day he should receive the Viaticum for the second time. If to 
avoid this danger there is no other way, then, according to St. 
Alphonsus and others, the priest is allowed in such need to take 
holy Communion to the sick man secretly. Finally, one might find 
a new difficulty in the Church prohibition of giving the Viaticum 
without permission of the pastor. This permission, however, can 
and must in our case be presumed, since the authorities unani- 
mously teach : "quia tunc praesumitur voluntas episcopi aut Papae" 
(S. Alph. L. VI. n. 236). Moreover, the pastor in administering 
Viaticum had exercised his authority, which does not extend to 
the repetition of the same, just as in an analogous case one who 


received Easter Communion unworthily in his parish church is 
obHged to repeat the same in a worthy manner, but may do so 
in any other church "quia jam a pastore sufficienter agnoscitur" 
(Marcw. 1572). 



Case. — Cajus, a young priest, was called hurriedly to a gravely 
sick man whom we will nam^e Titius. He finds the patient already 
unconscious, which was all the more distressing to Cajus as he had 
heard of him as a man who had long neglected his religious duties, 
had seldom or never visited a church, and had for some years 
neglected to fulfill his Easter duty. Cajus bestows upon him con- 
ditional absolution, and then, also conditionally, administers Ex- 
treme Unction, together with the general absolution. 

Question. — Has Cajus acted correctly, or prudently? 

Solution. — That Cajus in this case gave absolution conditionally 
was quite proper, as according to what he had heard he was natu- 
rally in doubt as to the man's moral disposition. It is somewhat 
different with the administration of Extreme Unction. Cajus 
should have administered this sacrament unconditionally, not con- 
ditionally, and this would have been the right and prudent way. 
And why? Cajus should have distinguished between the valid and 
the worthy reception of this sacrament. When there exists a rea- 
sonable doubt as to whether a person is physically capable of receiv- 
ing Extreme Unction, it must always be administered sub conditione 
("si capax es") ; for in such a case there is a question of validity. 
Instances of this kind would be the case of a sick child when there 
is doubt whether the necessary maturity of understanding has been 
reached, or that of an imbecile, when it is question whether the suf- 
ficient use of reason has ever been present. The same applies to a 


case of doubt whether a person is in a passing faintness or whether 
death has already set in, or, finally, whether the recipient is a Cath- 
olic. Since for the valid reception of any sacrament an essential 
condition is the intention on the part of the recipient — in the case 
of this sacrament at least a presumable intention — a justified doubt 
as to the presence of the intention prescribes the conditional ad- 
ministration, for instance in the case that a person before becom- 
ing unconscious would have expressed his will not to receive the last 
sacraments. Indeed, had such a patient so positively refused that 
a defectus intentionis must with certainty be concluded, the sacra- 
ment must not be given, on account of the lack of an essential con- 

It is diflferent where it is a matter not of the valid, but of the 
worthy reception of Extreme Unction, of the moral disposition, 
therefore, of the recipient. Since Extreme Unction is in the first 
place a sacramentum vivorum, and as such is first of all intended 
for the remission of only venial sins, it must ordinarily be received 
in the state of grace. In so far, however, as this sacrament may 
become a sacramentum mortuorum, and then takes the place of the 
Sacrament of Penance, which is the case when a person in grievous 
sin but bona fide receives it, then there are required for its worthy 
reception at least the dispositions required for the worthy reception 
of the Sacrament of Penance. May we, therefore, conclude that, 
where there is a positively reasonable doubt as to the moral disposi- 
tion of the recipient, this sacrament is to be administered sub condi- 
tione, and did, therefore, Cajus act quite correctly when he gave to 
the unconscious Titius Extreme Unction conditionally ? No ! In our 
case, despite the requirements of disposition just spoken of, Cajus 
should have administered the sacrament unconditionally. The Sac- 
rament of Extreme Unction, like Baptism (and this applies also to 


Confirmation, Holy Orders and Matrimony), possesses the pecu- 
liarity that even where it is received without the necessary disposi- 
tions it will exercise its sacramental effects. It revives, reviviscit 
as the theologians say, as soon as the indisposition {obex gratiae), 
which is present on part of the recipient, is removed. This is accom- 
plished by mere attrition provided that after receiving this sacra- 
ment the recipient does not commit anew a grievous sin, and is not 
capable of receiving the Sacrament of Penance (St. Alphonsus, lib. 
VI. n. 707; Lehmkuhl II. n. 50-52) .* But how would it be, if Titius 
had become unconscious in actu peccati mortalis, through intoxi- 
cation perhaps, or through attempted suicide? Should Cajus then 
have administered Extreme Unction unconditionally? Again, if 
this Titius had lived an irreligious life, was a notorious drunkard, 
libertine, etc., could Cajus without irreverence anoint him uncondi- 
tionally, when for this reason (irreverentia) many Moralists and 
Pastoral Theologians, amongst them even St. Alphonsus (Theol. 
Mor. I. VI. n. 82 and 732) favor a conditional administration? 
Let us suppose that Titius had really led a notorious and sinful life, 
or that he fell into his dangerous condition in actu peccati mortalis, 
without previously having given any sign of repentance. And now 
Cajus appears hurriedly, and gives to the unconscious Titius abso- 
lution with the condition "si es dispositus," and administers also 
Extreme Unction under the same condition. Titius later regains 
consciousness, for some moments, and, realizing the peril of his soul, 
awakens sorrow for his past sins, although only an imperfect sor- 
row. Cajus, again sent for at once, arrives after Titius has passed 
away. Had he given Extreme Unction unconditionally, then Titius 

* In the preceding case perfect contrition or attrition with the Sacrament 
of Penance was said to be necessary for reviviscence ; but it must be borne 
in mind that here there is no question of sacrilege and bad faith, as there 
was in that case. 


after arousing contrition would "per reviviscentiam" have been 
reinstated in the state of grace, and thus would have owed his sal- 
vation to Extreme Unction. But by administering it with the condi- 
tion, "si es dispositus," this means of grace of the Church became 
ineffective for Titius, though in his extreme peril it might have been 
for him at the last a saving anchor 1 What a misfortune ! 

If, therefore, the salvation of a poor sinner may, and often does, 
depend directly and at the last upon the unconditional administration 
of Extreme Unction, one may with good conscience follow the view 
that when a proper disposition has not been evident or is doubtful, 
Extreme Unction should be given unconditionally. The reflection 
that through the absolute administration of this means of grace to a 
possibly unworthy subject the sacrament might suffer irreverence 
should not have deterred Cajus from administering it absolutely; 
for, as was said, a subsequent dispositio siifficiens revives the sacra- 
ment and thus reinstates the poor sinner, perhaps at the last moment, 
in the state of grace, although at the moment of receiving the sacra- 
ment he was morally unworthy. Persons bereft of their senses can- 
not commit an actual sacrilege. And should not the mere possibility 
of such reviviscentia sacramenti suffice to administer bona consci- 
entia Extreme Unction unconditionally? But must not the minister 
sacramenti, as far as lies in his power, follow the sententia tutior, 
i. e., take the utmost care that the sacrament be not dispensed to the 
unworthy? Yes, the respect due a holy sacrament no doubt re- 
quires such caution ; yet the case is somewhat different if the recipi- 
ent of the sacrament is in extrema necessitate, which is most cer- 
tainly true in our case, where every effort must be made to save a 
threatened soul at the last moment. More than ever, therefore, the 
principle "Sacramenta propter homines," must be taken into ac- 
count and to the very extent required by the hope of saving the 


sinner, for "in extremis extrema sunt tentanda." And since in our 
case a possible reviviscentia sacramenti gives hope of salvation, 
therefore, the Sacrament of Extreme Unction may and must be 
administered in a manner that allows a reviviscentia to take place : 
hence, absolutely. 

Our Cajus will do well in future cases of the administration of 
Extreme Unction, where unconsciousness has already taken place, 
to adopt these principles : 

1. Where there is a reasonable doubt about the validity of the 
sacrament to be administered, always administer it conditionate {"si 
capax es"). 

2. Where the worthy reception is in doubt, it is always to be 
administered absolute (with previous conditional absolution). This 
should be done unless it is positively certain that a person wills to 
die in his unbelief and unrepentance, and unreconciled with his 
God, which we may never assume with certainty of a person bereft 
of his senses "cum homines etiam pessimi et perditissimi in mortis 
confinia deducti serio salvari cupiant" and hence to such person, 
even if he became unconscious after an irreligious life, or indeed 
in actu peccati mortalis, the sacrament should be dispensed absolute 
— of course exclude scandalo. 



Case. — Julian, a pastor, discovers in a non-Catholic hospital a 
dying woman who had been away from the Sacraments for many 
years. After long persuasion the zealous pastor arouses in her a 
sense of her pitiable condition. She consents to go to Confession 
and to receive Viaticum; she refuses, however, to allow the priest 
to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction. She is convinced 
that she will soon recover from her malady and entertains the 
notion that the reception of the Sacrament of the dying means the 
certain and rapid approach of death. Julian is only too glad of the 
chance to administer to her the other Sacraments, and does not 
urge very strongly the question of Extreme Unction. He hears her 
confession and gives her Holy Communion. Upon his return, three 
days later, he finds that the patient died suddenly the previous 
night. He is much disturbed over what he terms his neglect of a 
serious duty, and now seeks advice upon the matter. 

Question. — Was Julian to blame? 

Solution. — As the law stands, a pastor, or any priest having the 
care of souls, is obhged by his very office, and under the penalty of 
mortal sin, to administer this Sacrament to his subjects who may 
be placed in danger of death. And the law declares emphatically 
that he must do so even at the risk of his own life when the patient's 
salvation depends upon this Sacrament, that is, when this is the 
only Sacrament that the dying person can receive. The Roman 
Catechism states expressly that a pastor is guilty of mortal sin if 
he delays the administration of this efficacious rite until the last 
hour of the sick person's life, or until this person's senses are im- 
paired. In such an event there is a grave injury done to the peni- 


tent, who may possibly die without the reception of this Sacrament, 
as the woman in this case actually did, and who is certainly deprived 
of its good effects at the very time when these are most needed. 
But circumstances may minimize, or entirely remove, this obligation 
of the pastor. He has fulfilled his duty when he has done his best 
to persuade the dying person to receive this Sacrament, which he 
stands ready to administer if the one in need of it will consent to 
receive it. Thus it can be affirmed that Julian has not been lacking 
in the discharge of his duty. He did all that he was obliged to do. 
Had he done more, that is, had he insisted on the administration 
of Extreme Unction, in all probability he would have lost the op- 
portunity afforded him of saving a soul through the effects of 
Penance and Viaticum. The danger of such an alternative, which 
in this case was a real danger, warranted him in moderating his 
insistence. Moreover, the hospital authorities might have taken 
the stand that his action was interfering with the well-being of their 
patient, and likely to frustrate their efforts for her recovery. Then 
he would have been denied admittance to the needy soul. The re- 
sponsibility, therefore, rested not with the pastor but with the sick 
woman. We can not say that she committed sin in refusing to 
receive this Sacrament. Her motives did not involve any scandal 
or contempt. She did receive the Sacraments necessary for her 
salvation. This one would have been extremely useful to her, but 
was in no sense necessary. So she was not obliged to receive it, 
certainly not under pain of mortal sin. Very many people wish 
to defer the reception of this Sacrament, not because they believe it 
will hasten their death (such belief would be sinful), but because, 
not being properly instructed in the knowledge of its effects, they 
have accustomed themselves to the opinion that its reception means 
that all hope of recovery must be abandoned. Of course we know 


that such a state of mind is based on ignorance. This undoubtedly 
was the position assumed by the dying woman, and hence it is 
evident what little hope of success awaited Julian in his attempts 
to persuade her to have recourse to this Divine aid. He pursued 
the proper course when he followed his determination to administer 
Penance and Viaticum, and to await a more favorable opportunity 
for the renewal of his entreaties in behalf of Extreme Unction. 
He has no reason to be disturbed. 



Case. — James, a workman, is seriously injured in a subway acci- 
dent. He is taken to a hospital where one foot is found to be 
crushed and the other also injured, but not severely. His lower 
limbs are then put in splints and copiously bandaged. When the 
priest comes to administer the Sacrament of Extreme Unction he 
asks to have the dressings removed. Under protest the nurse 
removes the bandages and the patient's feet are anointed. 

Question. — Was the priest right in insisting on the removal of 
the splints, or should he have omitted the unction of the feet? 

Solution. — The Church, in harmony with the dicta of theologians, 
teaches that the five senses are to be anointed except in case of 
necessity. She commands, likewise, the anointing of the feet and 
loins, though the theologians hold that this is not necessary for the 
validity of the Sacrament. The reason for their position is found 
in the fact that while the eyes, ears, etc., are representative of par- 
ticular senses, the feet and loins are not, and hence the need of 
placing the holy oils on these parts cannot be urged from the view- 
point of validity or invalidity of this Sacrament. But since the 
rubrics of the Church demand that these sections of the human 
body have the holy oil applied to them, the priest is not at liberty 
to omit the required unction unless grave reason or an admitted 
custom sanction the omission. Such a custom would naturally 
depend upon the open or tacit approval of the Bishops of the 
country, or of the diocese. In England, for instance, custom per- 
mits the priest to pass over the anointing of the feet of any woman 
who is a patient in a public hospital. In this country no such con- 
cession is granted universally, though some bishops may tolerate it 


within their local jurisdiction. The one thing that could be urged in 
justification of the omission in question would be the impossibility 
of carrying out the rubrics in full, arising from physical conditions, 
such as an absence of the foot, or the presence of some serious 
risk or inconvenience to the dying person. This last condition, to 
our mind, is present in the case of James and it is serious enough 
to warrant the suspension of the rubric which demands the unction 
of the feet. The priest should not have called for the removal 
of the dressings which bound the injured feet. It was sufficient 
for the validity of the Sacrament to anoint the five senses. He has 
put himself, the nurse, and the patient, to needless trouble. 



Case. — A few years ago there circulated in the press the sensa- 
tional report that a certain man in an Italian town had received 
Holy Orders and had then renounced the priesthood for the reason 
that he had been forced into it by his parents. In order to obtain 
a valid decision in the matter, he instituted a canonical suit at the 
Curia, which had finally been referred to the Holy Congregation 
of the Sacraments. This Congregation, under its presiding officer, 
Cardinal Ferrata, was said to have decided that the ordination in 
this case was invalid, and that this man was free from all obligations 
imposed by the priesthood. It was reported that the man had sub- 
sequently been admitted to the Sacrament of Matrimony. 

Question. — What is to be thought of this story? 

Solution. — This piece of news created so much discussion, that, 
in order to obtain an authentic statement of the facts, the editor 
of the Quartalschrift, of Linz, addressed himself to an authority in 
Rome and elicited the following information. 

Like any other Sacrament the Sacrament of Holy Orders can 
be administered invalidly, and whenever this has been the case, 
and has been positively ascertained by the proper ecclesiastical 
authority, the one so ordained is not considered a priest. If the 
reason of invalidity of such an ordination is found in the lack of 
the necessary matter, or form, of the Sacrament, the invalidity can 
usually be clearly ascertained. In such a case the proper authority, 
after careful examination of the case, just as clearly pronounces 
the invalidity, if this is called for, and, whenever possible, the matter 
is then adjusted by a valid ordination. 

It is entirely different if an ordination is to be declared invalid 


on account of a lack of the necessary intention. It is a positive fact 
that intention is necessary to vaHdly receive this Sacrament, and it 
is also a fact that one is not a priest, and has been ordained in- 
validly, Avho, in receiving Holy Orders, explicitly and positively did 
not will to become a priest. 

Physical compulsion to receive Holy Orders is hardly possible, 
but unfortunately there are rare instances in which young men are, 
especially by their relations, morally forced to become priests. If 
then one so ordained appeals to the Holy Congregation of the Sac- 
raments, to have his ordination declared invalid, this Congregation is 
obliged to carefully examine the facts, and this is done with great 
thoroughness and in plena Congregations After careful investiga- 
tion and examination the Cardinals of the Congregation are in the 
first place requested to vote on the question : "An constet de nulli- 
tate ordinationisf" Is the invalidity of the ordination certain? 

This question has in no such instance been answered in the affirma- 
tive, and in all such cases the answer has been either "negative" or 
"provisum in responsione ad secundum." Thereupon the Congrega- 
tion is required to vote on the second question: "An constet de 
nullitate onerum sacerdotio" or "ordinationi inhaerentium?" Is the 
invalidity or nullity of the obligations incurred in Holy Orders cer- 
tain in this case? 

It is easily possible that in discussing the first question the proba- 
bility, though not certainty, of invalidity became apparent. Such 
would be the case if it was found that the one ordained was so 
much influenced and urged in receiving Holy Orders, that the free- 
dom necessary for assuming the heavy obligations of Holy Orders 
was entirely absent. In such cases it would not always follow that 
the ordination itself was invalid, but it would follow that the one 
ordained had not assumed the onera ordinationis, the duties of the 


ordination. In such case the answer to the second question would be 

In the case referred to in the newspaper report the first question 
was answered with "no" and the second with "yes." The report 
was, therefore, false in as far as the ordination had not been de- 
clared invalid. The proceeding in such cases is one that contributes 
to the honor of the Catholic Church, as it clearly demonstrates how 
careful the Church values and protects, on the one hand, the holi- 
ness of the Sacrament and of the priesthood, and, on the other hand, 
the freedom of the individual. 




Case. — The case here related has actually happened, though a 
long time ago. To Father Aurelius there came to confession a 
priest, whom we will call Ignotus. He mentioned a doubt about 
what seemed to him a substantial defect in the nature of his ordina- 
tion, which Aurelius recognized as justified, and for this reason he 
appealed to the Sacred Penitentiary. Since an invalid ordination 
does not admit of sanation, as does marriage, the repetition of the 
ordination would be necessary. However, the Penitentiary es- 
teemed the seal of confession so highly, and gave so much consid- 
eration to the good name of the one (be it bona or mala fide) inval- 
idly ordained, that it required no disclosure of the defect to a bishop, 
not even by the penitent himself. The whole matter of the confes- 
sion, at least concerning the person of the priest, should remain 
perfectly unknown. 

Solution. — Rome's wisdom solved the case as follows: The con-' 
fessor Aurelius was summoned and, in presence of no one, was 
consecrated a bishop at a low Mass, everything necessary having 
been secretly provided. Thereupon the secret Bishop Aurelius sent 
for the invalidly ordained Ignotus (who did not even get a glimpse 
of the bishop who had ordained Aurelius, and became known to 
no one) and ordained him at a low Mass, likewise without anyone 
present. The whole proceeding fell under Aurelius' seal of con- 
fession, indeed, this ordination might have taken place in confession. 
Immediately after this secret ordination, Aurelius was suspended 
entirely from the episcopacy, ab ordine as also a dignitate, and he 


could no longer act as bishop, not indeed per modum poenae but In 
the form merely of a judicial act. Rome considers that either he 
will not be elected bishop, or not so appointed ; but will see to it that, 
if his nomination (election) should come to Rome, there will not be 
a repetition of the ordo episcopalis; in this case he might be called to 
Rome "to take over the Episcopate" and, as if he had now been 
ordained in Rome, would return in order to be installed. 

Regarding Ignotus' priestly functions thus far the following may 
be said: His baptisms are valid; the marriages performed by him 
equally so, because, if he was at least a cleric and had the lesser 
orders, he was capax beneficii (parochiae) , for to undertake a pas- 
torate according to the Council of Trent the ordines minores are 
sufficient, though the cleric is under obligation to receive the higher 
orders within the year : however, if he assisted at a marriage dele- 
gated by a pastor, according to the Council of Trent he must be a 
priest. A resulting invalidity of marriages may be removed without 
knowledge of the contracting parties. In case of necessity even the 
titulus beneficii may be validated as well as the previous enjoyment 
-of the fruits thereof, as well as all blessings for indulgences and all 
other non-sacramental acts. His penitents so far have received 
no valid absolution from him; this defect could only be cured by 
God's mercy, through granting the grace of perfect contrition. It 
is to be hoped concerning the departed that this was so, if they have 
been in good faith and have done everything possible on their part. 
Ignotus disposed his congregation by a sermon to a sincere repent- 
ance of all the sins of their lives, and aroused in them the firm 
intention of going to confession in case they knew that it was 
necessary, and then absolved them sub conditione In secret. In 
individual confessions he disposed penitents to a general contrition ; 
he will not require a repetition of former confessions, because his 


penitents are in good faith, and he need not make known the invalid 
ordination. (In the same way a priest would act who for some 
time had absolved without jurisdiction in casu quo Ecclesia non 
supplet.) Indeed, if his faithful meantime have been to confession 
elsewhere with a general contrition they are already absolved. 

His administering Extreme Unction was invalid, but it is not a 
sacrament absolutely necessary for salvation. Where scandal is 
not to be feared he may repeat this sacrament in the case of those 
gravely sick persons still living. In receiving hosts consecrated by 
him the faithful did not receive Holy Communion, at most they 
obtained the merits of a spiritual Communion; but Communion is 
not "necessitate inedii" necessary to salvation. 

All Masses said by Ignotus were invalid; as far as there was 
present in their application a duty of justice, they must be said 
over or reduced (condoned) ; moreover the Pope can supply their 
fruits from the spiritual treasury of the Church. The case is one 
of special interest, because it is an extraordinary illustration of the 
sanctity of the seal of Confession and of the avoidance of any 
odium, and it also offers an example to what extent and in what 
manner the official actions of individual priests, where there is lack 
of validity, may be validated or supplied. 



Case. — Anna had during the life of her feeble husband Lewis 
repeatedly broken her marriage vow with the frivolous and irre- 
ligious Charles, who had even promised to marry her as soon as 
Lewis died. When Anna became a widow she desired to set her 
conscience at rest, and proposed to Charles that he either marry 
her, or cease all relations. Charles declined to marry her, and 
so she broke with him altogether. Then Anna received a favorable 
offer of marriage and intended to accept it. Charles, hearing of 
it, wanted from motives of jealousy to prevent Anna from becom- 
ing the wife of another man, and, seeking and gaining her favor 
again, devised a perfidious scheme. He knew that Anna from 
conscientious grounds would only marry in church, and he had 
repeatedly declared to her that for him the church ceremony ap- 
peared a mere formality and of no value; the only binding mar- 
riage for him was a civil marriage, one which, however, he was not 
willing to enter. Nevertheless, he consented to a church wedding. 
Anna, who doubted his honorable intentions, and had reason to fear 
that he would abandon her after the wedding and only occasionally 
live with her, told him and several friends that she would consent 
to the marriage on condition that Charles would lead the life of 
a married man according to the Catholic idea, and that this honor- 
able married life should, for family reasons, begin after the ap- 
proaching wedding of a daughter of Anna. Charles hesitated at 
first to accept the condition of married life, but finally gave his 
consent, even in writing. Thereupon the day was set for the 
ceremony. On the way to church Charles insisted that Anna 


promise upon oath that the copula was to take place in such manner 
that all prospect of having children was excluded. Anna was 
shocked at this proposition, but saw no escape, everything being 
ready for the wedding, so she complied, but for fear of disappoint- 
ment she renewed mentally during the ceremony her previously 
made condition of honorable married life. After leaving the church 
Charles went his way, Anna returning home alone. On rare oc- 
casions Charles visited Anna, but declared, both in writing and 
verbally, that he had given only a feigned consent to the marriage, 
in order to prevent her marrying someone else. When, six months 
later, Anna's daughter married, and thus the condition put by 
Anna and accepted by Charles, of living their married life together, 
was realized, Charles would not hear of it despite Anna's plead- 
ings, and so they came to a final break. Now Anna wishes to have 
her marriage to Charles under the conditions named declared in- 

Question. — Quid ad casumf 

Solution. — It appears from the facts stated, that several diriment 
impediments exist to the marriage between Charles and Anna, but 
their presence must be proved to establish the invalidity of the 
marriage. Not less than four impediments here come into consid- 
eration. Namely (1) that of the conditio; (2) that of the with- 
held or simulated consent (simulatio sen fictio consensus) ; (3) of 
the condition contrary to the nature of wedlock, and, finally, (4) 
that of crime. If even one of these obstacles can be proved with 
moral certainty, then the marriage in the case is null and void. 

I. The obstacle of the conditio. Like every other contract, that 
of marriage may have a condition added to it. By a condition 
in the strict sense we understand an addition to the contract by which 
its obligations are held in abeyance until the future event of the con- 


dition takes place {conditio de future). Conditions of the present 
or of the past are conditions in the improper sense, since a marriage 
under such conditions either at once exists or not, according as 
the conditioned circumstance, although unknown to the contracting 
parties, either exists or does not exist. With the conditio de future, 
however, as long as the condition has not been fulfilled, marriage- 
is not effected but simply remains in abeyance, for which reason 
the married couple have to refrain from conjugal intercourse 
until the fulfilling of the condition. If the condition is realized, 
the consent to marriage is valid and hence the marriage concluded; 
if, hoyvever, the condition does not materialize, then there is no 
marriage, and if the parties nevertheless wish to keep their union 
in existence, they must make a new marriage contract. Under a 
condition de futuro the contracting parties must arrange for the 
realization of the condition, must at least not impede its fulfilment. 
Should, however, one of the parties before the fulfilling of the 
condition enter unconditionally into a second marriage, then, on 
account of the obligation of waiting for the entrance of the condi- 
tion, this marriage would be unlawful, yet at once valid, as the 
first conditional marriage is no m.arriage before the fulfilment of 
the condition. On this matter Gasparri (De Matrimonie, 3, cap. 
IV, parte II, n. 987 seq.) says briefly and plainly: Conditio de 
eventu futuro contingenti suspendit consensum usque ad verified^ 
tionem eventus. . . . Igitur matrimonium sub tali conditione con- 
tractum interim non valet et est veluti in suspense, cum consensus 
alligatus illi conditioni nondum habeatur et in suspense sit. Utra- 
que pars tenetur curare verificationem cenditionis aut certe earn 
non impedire. . . . Matrim.onium, conditione quacumque de causa 
non verificata, evanescit ex defectu consensus, uti patet; verificata 
autem 7mlet a memento verificationis et tunc fit sacramientum, licet 


delude fictione juris retro trahatitr ad momentum celebrationis. It 
is to be remarked that after fulfilment of the condition, as most 
Canonists teach, a renewal of the consent, either privately or before 
the pastor and two witnesses, is not necessary. 

In this case, Anna had added to her marriage contract with 
Charles the lawful and possible condition: "I take you as my 
husband if after the wedding of my daughter you will begin to 
live with me in honorable wedlock," Charles consented to this 
condition. The marriage contracted under this condition is in- 
valid if with moral certainty three things can be proved ; namely : 
(1) That Anna before the marriage really imposed the condition 
actualiter. (2) That she never renounced actualiter the condition 
imposed, that therefore the condition at the moment of marrying 
continued virtualiter (a merely habitual condition would not suf- 
fice), and, (3) that the condition was not fulfilled. As is appar- 
ent from the facti species Anna is decidedly in a position to produce 
the threefold proof. For she published before the wedding the 
condition not only to her fiance Charles, but also to some friends, 
who can testify to this fact. She never renounced the condition 
imposed, but renewed the same mentally during the ceremony. 
The condition, as already stated, was not kept. Hence the mar- 
riage may be regarded in the given case as null and void. It does 
not alter the case that before the fulfilment of the condition, sexual 
intercourse was voluntarily had between Charles and Anna. True, 
the law holds that the performance of the copida carnalis means 
relinquishment of the condition. Wernz teaches even positively: 
"Qui ante conditionein de futuro impletam matrimonium per copu- 
lam libere admissam consummat, conditioni eo ipso renuntiasse 
praesumitur praesumptione juris et jure." The same view is held 
by other weighty Canonists, such as Gasparri, Kutschker, Scherer, 


Aichner, and others. This presumption, however, was abolished by 
a decree of Leo XIII. "Consensus mutuus," of February 15, 1892. 
Whether the aboHtion of this presumption may be extended to a 
condition de futuro of a contracted marriage, is not positively agreed 
upon by the Canonists, but several of them reply affirmatively to the 
question. Thus D'Annibale, with regard to the decree mentioned, 
declares: "Quamdiuignoratur,utrum {conditio de futuro) exstetvel 
exstiterit nefas est consummare matrimonium, nisi sponsi a condi- 
tione recedant. Quod si interim commisceant, hodie non amplius 
praesumuntur a conditione recedere et pure contrahere, etiam ubi 
Tridentinum non viget." The same is taught by Ballerini-Pal- 
mieri. That the presumption in question permits of a contrary 
proof is assumed by Leitner, who says "Sexual intercourse prac- 
tised prior to the fulfilment of a condition between two persons, 
who gave a conditional consent to marriage, implies renouncement 
of the condition, unless the will to the contrary is positively pres- 
ent." Similarly other authorities. 

In fact, it is not clear why the copula carnalis should in itself 
be a renouncement of the imposed condition. Couples may practice 
unlawful sexual intercourse without intending or wishing to re- 
nounce the condition imposed. Cohabitation of itself is not to be 
regarded as relinquishment of the condition. We cannot assert, 
for instance, that the copula carnalis implies renouncement of the 
condition when this renouncement is expressly excluded. And 
again, if a doubt exists as to the intention with which the copida 
was practised, then the continuance of the condition must be pre- 
sumed, if its revocation can not be proved. For in such case must 
be applied the rule in law : "ht dubio melior est conditio possidentis." 
The condition, however, is in possession as long as renouncement 
of the same is not established. If, therefore, Anna can prove that 


she did not intend to renounce the condition by permitting the 
copula, but persevered in the same, then her marriage to Charles 
is invahd because of non-fulfibnent of the condition. We may 
even suppose that Anna, far from wishing to renounce the condi- 
tion, permitted the copula in order to move Charles to the fulfilment 
of the condition. Finally, it is also to be observed that the copula 
carnalis, in order to imply renouncement of the condition, must be 
practised more et affecttt conjugali; however, this is not to be 
assumed in the foregoing case, because Charles, as we shall pro- 
ceed to show, probably added a condition contrary to the nature of 
matrimony. That, moreover, Anna did not renounce the condition 
is best seen in the fact that she continued to insist upon its fulfil- 
ment, and at last, upon the day when the condition was to be 
complied with, namely on her daughter's wedding-day, broke 
completely with Charles and since then had no further sexual 
intercourse with him. There is hardly any doubt, therefore, that 
Anna's marriage to Charles, because of the non-fulfilment of the 
imposed and accepted condition is null and void.* 

II. The second impediment to be taken into consideration in 
the case is the withheld or simulated consent (simulatio sive fie Ho 
consensus). This exists if one or both of the parties conform to 
the exterior forms of contracting marriage, but inwardly have no 
thought of entering upon a true marriage, or indeed exclude all 
such intention. That a feigned consent can never produce a real 
marriage, is evident. Of course the lack of consent is difficult to 
prove in the external forum, but such proof is by no means 
impossible. This proof of simulatio and fictio may be shown 

* In a quite similar case the Roman Rota decided some time ago for the 
invalidity of a marriage, a fresh proof that the consummation of marriage 
before the fulfilment of a condition does not imply renouncement of the 


from the cause of the simulation, also from the circumstances 
which preceded the marriage, followed it, or accompanied it. 
Now we know from the facts of the case that Charles, an irrelig- 
ious man, detested any kind of marriage, particularly a church 
marriage, which he regarded as an empty ceremony and not bind- 
ing, and only married the Catholic Anna in church to make impos- 
sible her union with another man. We may conclude, therefore, 
that Charles misused the church marriage, to an extent at least, 
as a means for his concupiscence. As a matter of fact Charles 
abandoned Anna right after the ceremony, thereafter occasionally 
visiting her to gratify his passion. Charles' hypocritical and de- 
ceitful intentions cannot be denied, and therefore, when in addition 
Charles declared in writing and verbally that he never intended a 
real marriage according to Catholic ideas, the proof of his feigned 
consent and therewith the invalidity of the marriage is well estab- 

III. In the third place there comes into consideration in our 
case the impediment of the condition against the nature of mar- 
riage. When on the way to church Anna was made to promise 
Charles that the copula take place in such manner as to prevent 
child-bearing, this was a condition contra bonum prolis. The fact 
of this condition is admitted by both parties and therewith the 
marriage is rendered invalid in the inner forum. For its invalidity 
in the external forum the condition imposed must be proved with 
moral certitude. For this are required argumenta, quae pruden- 
teni virwn, attentis circumstantiis occurrentibus, certum reddere 
valent. It is accepted generally that an admission made by the 
parties to the marriage at the investigation, or even earlier, after 
consummation of the marriage, is not admissible as proof against the 
validity of the marriage. But certainly there may exist exceptions 


to this rule. Such an exception could exist, if the understanding 
was made under circumstances that exclude all suspicion of un- 
truth. This appears to be the fact in our case. Charles despised 
Catholic marriage ; for him the only valid bond was a civil mar- 
riage, and this he refused to enter. He cared nothing about the 
invalidity of the church marriage. From these circumstances we 
may conclude that a condition against the natural aim of matrimony 
was imposed, namely against the honum prolis. Nevertheless the 
facts of the case as presented do not offer proof of this condition 
with moral certitude. 

IV. There remains now the fourth impediment, namely the 
impediment of crime ex adiilterio et promissione matrimonii, to be 
briefly considered. It is evident in our case that there was a 
complete material and formal adultery. Anna during the life of 
her lawful husband had copula carnalis perfecta with Charles. 
Both parties considered the intercourse adulterous. To the adul- 
tery was added on Charles' part the promise of future marriage ; but 
whether this promise was seriously intended is very doubtful with 
a man of Charles' views. Therefore it may have been only a 
resolution or wish, which does not suffice for the existence of the 
impedimentum criminis. And even if a serious promise of marriage 
was made by Charles, it is not plain whether Anna accepted 
the promise. Hence it is not certain whether in the given case the 
impedimentum criminis exists. In the case before us the marriage 
is invalid because of the added, but unfulfilled condition, and be- 
cause of the feigned consent. For the existence of the two other 
obstacles (pactio contra substantiam matrimonii, and impedimen- 
tum criminis) proof cannot be furnished. 



Case. — Claudius and Bertha wish to marry, but fear to under- 
take the burden of rearing a family. They marry, therefore, with 
the private understanding that they shall have no children for at 
least five years, and that the number of their children thereafter 
shall not exceed three. 

Question. — It is asked whether this marriage was valid. 

Solution. — A contract to which an immoral condition is attached 
is by the law of nature invalid, at least as long as the condition 
has not been fulfilled, if the condition have reference to the future, 
since no one can oblige himself to sin. In the case of the marriage 
contract it is not lawful for the parties to attach to their consent 
any condition — especially any that regards the future, unless there 
be most urgent reason for such action; a condition, however, that 
is possible and not opposed to good morals, does not as such render 
the marriage contract invalid. Such a conditional consent would be 
an agreement whereby the parties would transfer to each other 
the conjugal rights under the proviso that they would never exer- 
cise these rights. If some theologians regard such a marriage as 
invalid, this is only because they hold that the promise to practice 
continency is inconsistent with the right to conjugal intercourse, 
and consequently opposed to the nature of marriage. 

In the case of Claudius and Bertha, therefore, if their agree- 
ment bound them to abstain from the use of marriage before and 
after a certain time and nothing more, such agreement did not 
invalidate their marriage, unless one prefers the opinion that an 
engagement to practice continency, perpetual or temporary, is a 


denial of the rights to perpetual conjugal intercourse. But the 
condition by which the couple qualified their consent seems to have 
been of a very different nature. As the purpose of their pre- 
nuptial agreement was to evade the consequences of the marriage 
act rather than to practice continency, it may be assumed that they 
intended to limit the number of their children by unlawful means. 
Such a stipulation is plainly repugnant to good morals, and, there- 
fore, by reason of the principle stated in the beginning it would 
seem that the marriage of Claudius and Bertha should be invalid. 
But the positive law has provided that for the marriage contract 
only those imm.oral conditions are nullifying which are opposed 
to the substance of matrimony. "Si conditiones contra substantiam 
matrimonii inseratur, puta si alter dicat alteri: contralto tecum, si 
generationem prolis evites, vel donee inveniam aliam honor e vel 
facultatihus ditiorem, aut si pro quaestu adidterandam te tradas: 
matrimonii contractus, quantumcumque sit favorabilis, caret effectu. 
Licet aliae conditiones appositae in matrimonio , si turpes aut im- 
possibiles fuerint, debeant propter ejus favorem pro non adjectis 
haberi" (Decretals iv, tit. 5, 7). A condition that positively and 
expressly excludes an essential obligation of matrimony, whether 
intended by one or by both parties, renders the marriage of no 
effect; for without its substantial obligations matrimony cannot 
even be conceived. 

In the agreement of Claudius and Bertha the condition is not 
merely sinful, it is opposed to the procreation of children. But 
the substance of m.arriage, as the words quoted declare, includes 
the generation of children (bonum prolis), indissolubility {bonum 
sacramenti) , and conjugal fidelity (bonum fidei). 

But here we must distinguish between the rights of marriage 
and their use, between the duties of marriage and their exercise. 


According to St. Thomas (4 Sent. d. 31. q. 1. a. 3.) the essence 
of marriage does not depend on its use or on the fulfilment of 
its obligations, but on the intention to acquire the rights and to 
assume the obligations of the married state. This is the common 
and certain opinion. Now as Claudius and Bertha are not ignorant 
of the nature and duties of marriage and as they "wish to marry," 
their agreement excludes not the right to, but the exercise of the 
lawful use of marriage, not the matrimonial obligation, but its 
fulfillment. Hence it appears that their marriage was valid. Of 
course if the parties had intended the pre-nuptial agreement as a 
conditio sine qua. non of their marriage consent and if they had 
wished to exclude the rights and obligations that are inherent to 
the marriage contract, the ceremony they took part in would not 
have been a true marriage defectu consensus. Their consent would 
have depended on a condition that was immoral and opposed to 
the nature of marriage. 

As a general rule marriages contracted with the understanding 
that the parties are to practice birth control, although sinful because 
of the intended abuse of marriage, are not thereby rendered invalid. 
The intention to become man and wife usually outweighs any 
opposing intention. "Si conditio apponitur contra boniim prolis 
e. g. dummodo generationem prolis vitemus donee ditiores evaseri- 
mus — dummodo post unum vel alterum filium prolem excludamus; 
conjugum intentio exploranda est: si infendunt jus ad legitimum 
usum matrimonii excludere, contractus est invalidus, quia non con- 
cedunt jus perpetuum in proprium corpus in ordine ad generatio- 
nem, quod tamen ad essentiam matrimonii essentiale est; si vero, 
ut plerumque fit, praevaleat intentio illud jus tradendi, cum secun- 
daria intentione matrimonio abutendi, contractus valet" (Tan- 
querey, Syn. Theol. Moral., I, p. 427). 



Case. — In our diocese the rule is established to have marriages 
celebrated with nuptial Mass. A certain pastor is troubled at the 
frequency of pre-nuptial misconduct and consequent scandals in 
his parish, and is exercised about stopping them ; so he decides 
upon having no nuptial Mass in future if any such misconduct has 
preceded the proposed marriage. He announces this publicly in 
church, and adds that a written assurance must be given him that 
no misconduct has taken place (meaning, of course, fornication) 
between the parties wishing to be married ; otherwise there will be 
no nuptial Mass, and everyone will then understand (he adds) 
the reason why. The nuptial Mass is, of course, very much prized 
in the parish, and the non-celebration of it at any marriage would 
be looked upon as a degradation. The pastor finds this his last 
resource in the matter and holds that the end justifies this means. 

Solution. — The principle that the end justifies the means is a 
pernicious one, when the means are evil, unjust, etc. In the pres- 
ent case we cannot see any justification for the use of the means 
employed. It is the wish of the Church that all her children re- 
ceiving the Sacrament of Alatrimony should have a nuptial Mass. 
She desires that they be encouraged, not discouraged, in so holy 
a practice. In these days when worldliness is on the increase and 
our young people show a tendency to follow the fashions of a 
worldly society, it is all the more imperative upon the clergy to 
insist upon a nuptial Mass, and not to make it more difficult or 
even impossible for the people to obtain this special blessing of 
God upon their marriage. The action of the pastor in question 
does make it more difficult for all, and impossible for some, to 
submit to the wishes of the Church in this respect. Moreover, 


such a decree will tend to create a habit of marrying without a 
nuptial Mass, which sooner or later will spring into a deep-rooted 
custom. When his people see many such marriages celebrated, 
they will lose their desire for nuptial Masses and content them- 
selves with the simpler and less expensive ceremony. The fact 
that sin has been committed can never deprive a couple of the right 
that is theirs of receiving the nuptial blessing. They can confess 
their sins and receive absolution and thus receive the Sacrament 
of Matrimony in the state of grace. Surely no one in the state 
of grace should be driven away from the special blessings of God; 
and who stand more in need of these blessings than those who, 
through weakness, have fallen into pre-matrimonial sin? Their 
difficulties in married life are usually greater, and hence they have 
more need of God's blessing. Again, we must not forget that their 
sin is a secret one, which does not necessarily cost them their 
reputation. They have a strict right to that reputation, and no 
one, not even their pastor, is justified in ruining that reputation. 
But this is the inevitable result of the pastor's attitude. His action 
proclaims their sin and the ultimate consequence of this is scandal 
to the parishioners, and a hatred of the Church and of her laws 
is engendered in the hearts of those who are refused the nuptial 
Mass. The day would soon come when his people would seek 
marriage outside the church, if possible. The Church obliges us 
to confess our sins privately; this pastor obliges his people to con- 
fess publicly. Moreover, innocent people are compelled to make a 
statement that must be most humiliating, and that in their case 
serves no purpose whatever. Sinners are driven to make lying 
statements to save their reputation. Dissatisfaction and more intol- 
erable evils can only come from this practice. We hold that the 
attitude of the pastor is unjustifiable. 





Case. — Fabius, a Protestant, weds the Catholic Anna, and promises 
that he will let all their children be brought up as Catholics. Upon 
the birth of the first child, however, he withdraws his promise, 
causes the infant to be christened by a Protestant minister and to 
be enrolled in the Protestant church register. Anna vainly opposes 
this breach of faith, and resolves to deny Fabius his conjugal rights 
until he makes good his breach of faith. When she seeks advice in 
confession, one confessor declares her resolve to be unlawful, an- 
other says that it is valid, and indeed her duty. 

Question. — Which confessor is right? 

Solution. — We have to deal here with a resolution which aims at 
a dissolution of the conjugal union, not in the fullest sense but yet 
in an essential point. It is true that, though the Catholic Church 
does not recognize a divorce, or the severing of the bond between 
baptized persons after a validly consumm.ated marriage, she does 
permit a separation from conjugal association for important reasons, 
and, according to the nature and gravity of the reason, she permits 
a permanent or temporary separation. Grounds for a permanent 
separation, which excludes the resumption of conjugal association 
even after the removal of the grounds for separation, are adultery 
by the other party, or that party's falling into heresy after the 
marriage, if such is ascertained by an ecclesiastical court. The 
ecclesiastical law recognizes as grounds for a temporary separation, 
i. e., for the period that the grounds continue to exist : Ill-treatment, 


peril of life, danger of infection, danger of seduction, or the near 
occasions of sin, and similar causes. (Compare St. Alphonsus I. 6 n. 
970. ; Wernz, Jus decretal, Vol. IV., 712. ; Lehmkuhl, Theol Mor. 
II., 934.) 

In Anna's case we have plainly none of the mentioned grounds. 
For this reason, no doubt, the one confessor declared Anna's 
resolve to be unlawful. But there may be a ground of equal, or 
nearly equal, weight in Anna's case. If this be the fact, then 
Anna's resolve may be considered valid, all the more so as here 
there is question not of a complete but only of a partial, temporary, 
suspension of the conjugal union. And as it is not a matter of a 
public separation, therefore everything may be settled in the realm 
of conscience, according to established probable opinion. 

Is there actually present for Anna a ground similar to the recog- 
nized ecclesiastical reasons for a separation? As the last canonical 
ground is mentioned above: "Danger of temptation, or near occa- 
sion of sin." For Anna personally, as we glean from the case, this 
danger is not present ; but for the children of this marriage, whom 
Anna must consider as her other ego, there is great danger at hand : 
from the very start they are to be snatched from Christ's Kingdom 
and led into a false religion. One of the reasons recognized by the 
Church, therefore, is not absent in Anna's case. 

We must also consider the reason which, in a marriage contracted 
by infidels, allows to the party becoming converted and baptized, 
not merely a partial suspension of the conjugal union but separa- 
tion. The reason is thus stated : si infidelis non vult cohahitare nisi 
cum contumelia Creatoris. This contumelia Creatoris must be 
understood as the inciting of the converted spouse to apostasy, or 
to grievous sin. Such contumelia Creatoris is evidently present 
when the prospective children are to be withdrawn, from the very 


beginning, from the true worship of God, and hence to be deprived 
of their Lord and Creator. In our case Fabius intends to compel 
Anna to this contumelia Creatoris. 

This fact will become much plainer to us if we call to mind the 
purpose of Christian marriage, and Anna did enter a Christian 
marriage with Fabius. The aim of Christian marriage includes the 
natural purpose of marriage, namely the propagation and increase 
of the human family, but it ennobles this aim and strives really for 
the propagation and increase of the Kingdom of God amongst men; 
it aims at peopling the earth with new beings directly destined to 
belong to the Kingdom of God on earth ; this Kingdom of God, 
however, is only the Catholic Church. This purpose of the marriage 
between Fabius and Anna, which Fabius first solemnly desired and 
promised, he intends now to nullify. Anna need not make herself 
a party to such frustration of purpose, and may consequently deny, 
the conjugal intercourse that v/ould lead to it. We may easily under- 
stand now, why the second confessor was of opinion that Anna is 
obliged to refrain from intercourse with Fabius, and that her 
refusal was a matter of duty. This conclusion, however, as we 
shall presently show, goes too far; but that the refusal on Anna's 
part is in and of itself lawful, appears from our deductions as more 
than probable. 

A further confirmation of this view is found in the general prin- 
ciple which as the 75. regula juris was by Boniface VIII. incor- 
porated in Canon Lazv, according to the liber sextus Decretaliuni. 
The principle is stated as "Fnistra sibi fidem quis postiilat ah eo 
servari, cui fidem a se praestitam servare recusat." This is a sharp 
light on our case, in Anna's favor. Fabius has committed a breach 
of faith with Anna, he refuses to keep his solemnly given word 
and to carry out the serious obligation undertaken before God; 


hence it is vain for him to require Anna to keep faith in her marital 
duty; by persisting in his breach of faith he releases Anna from 
her duty. 

There is still to be said, anent this case, that it would be going 
too far to oblige Anna to refuse her husband the marital right, unless 
by such temporary denial Fabius would be moved to keep his promise. 
As a matter of fact, however, a refusal of this nature too often 
widens the breach between a married couple, it engenders disputes 
and quarrels, and might become the cause of exposing to many 
temptations not only the husband (through his own fault), but even 
the wife. We may gather from this that a refusal on the wife's 
part is not only not an obligation, but is not even advisable, unless 
the debitum conjugale is under the circumstances something intrin- 
secus malum. But this is not the case. If from the act itself there 
would result the frustration of the aim of marriage, then certainly 
the act would be unlawful. But in our case there results from the 
act not even the frustration of the supernatural or Christian aim of 
marriage; this is brought about only extrinsecus, through the con- 
tinued malice of Fabius, but can possibly be defeated through Anna's 
vigilance, and later by the voluntary choice of the children them- 
selves ; therefore the granting of the debitum conjugale remains for 
Anna as something in itself lawful. The natural purpose of mar- 
riage remains intact, and the secondary purpose of marriage, the 
remedmm concupiscentiae, is not to be disregarded. 

From the above it may be gathered that the first confessor judged 
Anna too severely in the question quid liceat, while the other con- 
fessor was also too severe and disregarded quid expediat. 



Case. — Bertha, a Catholic young- lady, asks Paul, her pastor, to 
obtain the necessary dispensation in order that she may marry 
Ezekias, a Methodist. At the same time she informs Paul that 
Ezekias refuses to make any promises in regard to the future 
Catholic Baptism and training of the children that may be born 
after the marriage. Paul declares that it will be useless to apply 
to the bishop for a dispensation, unless Ezekias consents to make 
the pre-nuptial promises, which are always required of non-Cath- 
olics who desire to marry Catholics. Ezekias refuses to make the 
promises; then he and Bertha contract a civil marriage before a 
magistrate on May 2, 1912. Two months later Bertha repented, 
and anxious to have her marriage legalized in the eyes of the 
Church, applies to Paul for relief, stating that Ezekias refuses either 
to appear before the priest for a marriage ceremony, or to make 
any promises. Paul applies to the bishop for a sanatio in radice. 

1. Is it always necessary to require the pre-nuptial promises in 
cases of mixed marriages? 

2. May the bishops in the United States in any circumstances 
allow a priest to officiate at a mixed marriage when the non-Catholic 
party obstinately refuses to make the pre-nuptial promises ? 

3. What is meant by the material presence of a pastor at a 
mixed marriage under certain circumstances? 

4. Did Paul the pastor act prudently in the case as proposed? 

5. Could a bishop in the United States give a Sanatio in radice 

in the case as proposed? 

Solution : 

1. It is necessary always in cases of mixed m.arriage to require 


the pre-nuptial promises (cautiones) by which the non-Cathohe 
party agrees to the rehgious hberty of the CathoHc spouse and the 
Catholic education of their children. This is required not only by 
ecclesiastical legislation but also by the natural and divine law. 
"Cum enim non ecclesiastica solum sed nafuralis ac divina prorsus 
lex vetet, ne homo in mcptiis contrahendis se aut futuram soholem 
periculo perversionis temere committat; exinde sane manifestum est 
memoratas cautiones idcirco ad hiberi, ut naturalis eadem divinaque 
lex sarta tectaque habeatur" (Pius VIII, to Archbishop of Cologne, 
Mar. 27, 1830). Ecclesiastical legislation may and should require 
that those promises be made in writing and signed by the parties 

2. In a letter of Gregory XVI. to the bishops of Hungary (April 
30, 1841) it was declared that in cases of mixed marriage when 
the cautiones are obstinately refused and the marriage cannot be 
prevented without danger of greater evil and scandal and detriment 
to religion, and it is deemed better for the good of the Church and 
the common welfare that the marriage should take place before 
the priest rather than before a heretical minister, "tunc parochus 
catholicus aliusve sacerdos ejus vices gereus poterit iisdem nuptiis 
materiali tanfum praesentia, excluso quovis ecclesiastico ritu adesse." 
The bishops of the United States have not requested a concession 
such as was made to the bishops of Hungary, and the Holy See 
has not made such a concession for our country. It cannot be said, 
then, that our bishops have the right tO' judge whether they can 
allow the assistentia passiva, as Rome seems to reserve the judg- 
ment to its own tribunal in all doubtful cases of this particular 
kind. A decree of the Holy Office of August 5, 1916, declares that 
passive assistance of pastors at mixed marriages can be tolerated 
only in the places for which concessions were made before the 


"Ne Temere." Hence marriages contracted in such manner else- 
where are according to this decree not only illicit, but also invalid. 
The same Sacred Congregation decided Dec. 22, 1916, that when 
the non-Catholic party is willing to wed before the parish priest 
but refuses to make the customary promises in favor of the Catholic 
religion, validation must be obtained through a sanatio in radice 
rather than through a dispensation with renewal of consent in the 
passive presence of the parish priest. Cf., however, what is said 
under No. 5. 

3. By material or passive assistance it is meant that the priest 
assists merely as a witness, gives no sign of approval and performs 
no ecclesiastical rite. Hence the sacred vestments should not be 
used, the words "Ego vos conjungo, etc." should not be pronounced, 
the blessings of the ring, prayers, Mass and nuptial blessing should 
be omitted. 

"Whether the asking and receiving of consent would constitute 
formal or active assistance on the part of the priest is not certain. 
The Holy Office declared June 21, 1912, that in case of mixed mar- 
riage when the cautiones are obstinately refused, the prescription 
of the "Ne Temere" requiring for validity that the expression of 
consent be asked and received no longer holds. From this it seems 
most probable that such action on the part of the priest would be 
more than material or passive assistance. Nevertheless there seems 
to be some reason for holding that, since the persons to be married 
make the contract (the priest not being the minister), to ask: "Wilt 
thou take, etc?" would be nothing more than saying: "You wish 
to be married ; then join hands and say these words : *I, N., take, 
etc' " Certainly the presence would be merely material if the priest 
omitting the "Wilt thou take, etc?" began by telling the couple to 


join hands and say : "I, N., take thee, etc." and continued as directed 
in the "modus assistendi matrimoniis mixtis," as in the Baltimore 
Ritual. Whether the priest asked the parties to repeat the words 
after him, or made them read from a book, would not be important, 
as in either case his assistance would be merely material. 

4. Paul acted imprudently if he did not refer the case to the 
bishop. If he thought that the marriage could not be prevented, 
his duty was: 1st, to try to obtain the promises; 2nd, in case of 
refusal, to lay the matter before the bishop. In countries where 
instructions have been given, it is decided that the bishops may allow 
the priest to assist materialiter. 

5. The former faculties of the bishops did not comprehend this 
new impediment of the forum of marriage. Canon 1139 of the new 
Codex provides that marriages can be sanated in radice, even when 
the requisite form has not been observed. It does not grant this 
faculty to bishops, however, but simply states that such marriages 
can be made legitimate. Hence the faculty has to be applied for. 
Some bishops in the United States, e. g., Cardinal Farley of New 
York, have the faculty to grant a sanatio in radice for a marriage 
attempted, cum impedimento mixtae religionis vel disparitatis cultus, 
before a magistrate or a non-Catholic minister. Such sanation may 
be granted inscia parte acatholica, if it be impossible to get a renewal 
of the consent with the cautiones. There is good authority for 
holding, likewise, that a bishop who does not possess these or similar 
faculties may act, nevertheless, as though he did, if there be grave 
necessity of such action, e. g., if prompt recourse to the Holy See 
is impossible and the case cannot sufifer such delay without causing 
great harm. Canon 81 of the new Code reads: "A generalibus 
Ecclesiae legibus Ordinarii infra Romanum Pontificem dispensare 
nequeunt, ne in casu quidem pecuUari, nisi haec potestas eisdem 


fuerit explicite vel implicite concessa, aut nisi difficilis sit recursus 
ad S. Sedem et simul in mora sit periciilum gravis damni, et de 
dispensatione agitur quae a Sede Apostolica concedi solet." How- 
ever the decree of Dec. 27, 1916, mentioned above states that a 
bishop, nowithstanding his faculty of sanatio in radice, cannot make 
use of it in case the non-Catholic party is willing to appear before 
the priest, but is entirely unwilling to make the promises. 



Case. — From Paul, pastor, Cecilia asks advice in regard to her 
marriage with John, the father of her three children. She makes 
the following statement of the case : Cecilia has been always a 
Catholic. John, once a Lutheran, was received into the Catholic 
Church November 25th, 1905, by a priest who administered condi- 
tional baptism. In the month of August, 1906, Cecilia and John 
were united in marriage by a civil magistrate, and to the union there 
were born three children who have not been baptized. Cecilia 
feared to go to a priest because John had two previous matrimonial 
experiences. In the first case, March 10th, 1900, he went through 
the outward ceremony of a marriage with Anna before a squire, 
because the father and brother of Anna, a baptized Lutheran, who 
was soon to be a mother, threatened to shoot him if he did not 
marry the girl. John declares on oath that before the ceremony 
he made known to three friends, still alive, that he had no intention 
of contracting a real marriage. After the ceremony, such as it was, 
he departed and has not since that time seen Anna, who obtained a 
divorce on the ground of desertion, and is now living with a hus- 
band in California. 

Again, on June 10th, 1903, he was married by a Lutheran minister 
to Letitia, also a Lutheran. John affirms that among Lutherans 
there was a "general understanding" that married people could be 
divorced for Scriptural reasons. Letitia was unfaithful. John 
obtained a divorce in the civil courts. Cecilia accepted the story 
, in all details and married John as stated above, but feared to 
approach a priest. She and John now wish to receive the Sacrament 
and to have their children baptized and instructed by her pastor. 


Paul, convinced that the two former marriages were invalid, tells 
Cecilia that all will be well as soon as he can receive authorization 
to absolve from the sin committed by contracting marriage before 
a civil magistrate, the sin being reserved to the Bishop in Paul's 
diocese, in which also the marriage was contracted. 

The chancellor of the diocese warns John that there can be no 
further proceedings until an examination has been made of the two 
former marriages. 

1. Did Paul act prudently in making his statement to Cecilia? 

2. Is the sin of contracting or attempting to contract marriage, 
outside the Church, universally reserved to the Bishop ? 

3. When and under what circumstances does fear of a grave 
detriment invalidate the matrimonial contract? 

4. What is to be held in regard to marriages contracted with 
some kind of "understanding" that divorce can be granted for 
"scriptural" or "statutory" reasons? 

5. Will the Church sanction the marriage of John and Cecilia ? 

6. Should not Paul have said to Cecilia, at once and without 
hesitation: You cannot receive the Sacrament, and I will not bap- 
tize your children unless you cease to live with John, your reputed 
husband ? 

Solution : 

1. Certainly Paul acted imprudently. Apart from the general 
rule that no priest should lightly and hurriedly decide serious cases 
of conscience, the case proposed to Paul called not only for serious 
consideration, but was one which clearly should have been brought 
to the attention of the Bishop of the diocese to be examined and 
decided by him, or by a judge appointed by him in union with 
the curia for matrimonial cases and in conformity with rules laid 


down by the "Instructio de Judiciis Ecclesiasticis circa causas 
Matrimoniales," printed in the appendix (p. 262) to the Acta et 
Decreta Cone. Plen. Baltimore, III. 

Even when a diocesan Curia MatrimoniaHs declares a marriage 
invalid, the Defensor Vinculi must appeal to another curia (Metro- 
politan). If both decisions are against the validity, the Defensor 
Vinculi may appeal to the Holy See, and either one of the con- 
tracting parties may appeal to the Holy See — which they were free 
to do from the beginning, if they wished. It is never allowable to 
contract a new marriage until two decisions have been given against 
the validity of former ceremonies. (See Instruct, sup. cit., espe- 
cially par. 25 and par. 30.) 

2. a. There is no general decree reserving in all parts of the 
United States absolution from the sin of contracting or attempting 
to contract marriage before a civil magistrate, but some bishops 
make this reservation in their dioceses. 

b. By decree of the Third Plenary Council of Baltimore (n.n. 
124, 128), the following sins with excommunication are reserved 
to the ordinary : 

(I) Attempt to marry after having received a civil divorce. 

(II) Contracting marriage or attempting to contract marriage be- 
fore a non-Catholic minister. 

3. If the law of nature alone be considered, acts done under 
fear can be voluntary, i. e., they can be done with deliberation. 
Unless the evil impending or threatened be so great as to deprive 
one of the use of reason, his acts under fear are voluntary simpliciter 
(i. e., he really makes up his mind to do the act) and involuntary 
secundum quid (i. e., under the circumstances he might not do the 

To protect the freedom of a marriage contract, the Church by 


positive legislation decrees that marriage contracts made under fear 
of serious detriment shall be held for null and void. 

Canonists and theologians unanimously hold that grave fear is a 
diriment impediment to matrimony when the following conditions 
are found : 

"Ut incutiatur (1) a causa externa et libera; (2) injuste; (3) 
ad finem contrahendi matrimonium." (Sabetti-Barrett, de matrim. 
n. 905.) 

In regard to John's first venture : 

a. The marriage most probably was invalid ratione metuSj for 
the evil threatened was unjust. The father and brother of the 
wronged girl could have had recourse to the processes of the law; 
but had not the right to threaten to shoot John, if he refused to 
marry the girl. 

b. Apart from the question of threats made, if John really did 
not give consent, certainly there was no marriage. The testimony 
of disinterested and reliable witnesses would be accepted in eccle- 
siastical courts. But Paul, the pastor, could not proceed upon the 
assumption that this marriage was invalid. His duty was to refer 
this case to the bishop. "Conjuges in causis matrimonialibus sub- 
sunt episcopo in cujus diocesi maritus domicilium habet." (In- 
struct, sup. cit. par. 2.) 

4. a. The answer to the fourth question is found in the deci- 
sion given by the Roman Rota in the famous Castellane-Gould case. 
The decision was given February 8, 1915. It was published in the 
Acta Apostolicae Sedis of June 21, 1915. (Ann. VII, Vol. n. 11.) 
The practical consequences of this important decision, especially 
in regard to the marriage of non-Catholics, are drawn out in an 
article: "Are non-Catholic marriages valid?" published in the 
November, 1915, number of the American Ecclesiastical Review. 


The principle on which is based the Rota decision for the validity 
of the Castellane-Gould marriage is the following: An error (false 
opinion) about the dissolubility or indissolubility of marriage does 
not invalidate the marriage contract, unless there be an explicit and 
absolute act of the will making this error and condition a part of 
the contract. "Conditio contra substantiam matrimonii debet in 
pactum deduci" is the expression generally used by canonists and 
theologians treating this question. 

"Error circa indissolubilitatem conjugii menti suae inhaerens 
et dans locum contractu! . . . non irritat matrimonium." (Acta 
Apos. Sedis sup, cit. p. 304.) 

"Ut matrimonium sit invalidum, requiritur voluntas explicita 
qua contrahens simpliciter et absolute vinculi perpetui exclusionem 
intendit." (Ibid. p. 309.) Nothing will supply for the defect of 
consent; but the Rota declared that in the Castellane-Gould case 
Miss Gould had two intentions: 1st, to contract marriage; 2nd, to 
contract a marriage that could be dissolved by divorce. In such 
cases it is not easy to determine whether the marriage is valid or 
invalid. "Res ardua est dubium dirimere." (Ibid. p. 295.) "Nam 
duae erant voluntates contrariae, generalis, nempe contrahendi ma- 
trimonium prout ab Auctore naturae vel a Christo institutum est, 
perpetuum scilicet et indissolubile : et alia particularis, qua inten- 
ditur vinculum ob adulterium vel alias causas dissolubile" (ibid.). 
To solve the doubt, the Rota says, it is necessary to apply some rule 
by which we can determine which intention prevailed, and it 
adopted the rule laid down by Benedict XIV. : "Prevalet in casu 
voluntas particularis si expresse apposita fuerit conditio de matri- 
monio ob adulterium solvendo: sin aliter, praevalet voluntas gene- 
ralis qua intenditur indissolubile vinculum, in qua absorptus manet 
privatus contrahentis error." (Ibid.) 


Hence: "The Church holds marriage among Hebrews, infidels, 
Greeks, Calvinists to be valid, unless the explicit condition of its 
solubility was made." (Gasparri. See Amer. Eccl. Rcviezv, Nov., 
1915, p. 582.) "The marriage of infidels, heretics and schismatics 
are valid, unless the contracting parties positively intend otherwise 
and outwardly manifest that they will contract none but a soluble 
marriage." (Wernz cited ibid.) 

b. Applying this principle to the case of John and Letitia, we 
must conclude that, granting that the marriage with Anna was 
invalid, this second marriage was valid, unless it can be proved 
that one was baptized and the other unbaptized, or that there was 
another invalidating impediment. 

The "general understanding" would not invalidate the marriage 
unless an explicit agreement that divorce might be obtained was 
made a part of the contract (in pactum deducta). 

5. John and Cecilia cannot obtain the sanction of the Church for 
their marriage if Letitia is still alive. Had there been no marriage 
ceremony but the first (with Anna, under threat of death) the 
Curia Matrimonialis might have given a declaration of nullity, 

6. Paul should proceed very cautiously in giving advice to 
Cecilia: (I) For the baptism of the children all that is required is a 
reasonable guarantee that they will be brought up as Catholics. (H) 
In determining what should be said in regard to the separation of 
John and Cecilia, many things must be considered : a. Are they in 
good faith or in bad faith? b. Will an admonition from the pastor 
produce good results ? c. Are John and Cecilia in such good dispo- 
sitions and of such good character that one could rely on their 
promises to live together as brother and sister? d. Would there be 
scandal if they continued to live together, being known as man and 
wife? Paul should pray and seek counsel. 



Case. — Titus, a young man of respectable family, falls in love 
with Sempronia, a woman of evil life. His parents threaten ejec- 
tion from the family and disinheritance unless he abandon the 
liaison; at the same time they promise to make him heir to the 
greater part of their fortune, if he will agree to marry Gertrude 
and lead a more settled life. Titus thereupon pays suit to Gertrude, 
and after six months they are married. But his love for Sempronia 
had not waned, and even during the marriage ceremony the thought 
of separation from her caused him great mental anguish. After one 
year of married life Titus abandons wife and child to resume his 
former intimacy with Sempronia. To the remonstrances of his 
wife and parents he answers that his consent to marry Gertrude was 
extorted through fear and had therefore no binding force. 

Question. — Is Titus' contention correct? 

Solution. — Since marriage is a contract and depends on the consent 
of the contracting parties, whatever takes away the freedom of con- 
sent is an obstacle to marriage. Hence undue influence brought to 
bear upon the parties in order to extort their consent nullifies the 
marriage. This results from the natural law when the stress of fear 
is so strong that it dethrones the reason. In other cases, when 
the fear is not so extreme, the consent must be deemed absolutely 
voluntary, i. e., the will chooses what appears the lesser evil; yet 
at the same time is the consent partially involuntary, inasmuch as 
it is given with more or less repugnance. The positive law re- 
gards contract made under such stress of fear as voidable; but 
since this cannot be applied to marriage, the Church has made fear 
a diriment impediment, i. e., one that renders the matrimonial con- 


tract null and void. It is not every fear, however, that nullifies the 
marriage contract, but only such fear as is : ( i ) extrinsic, i. e., whose 
cause is found in another person; (2) inflicted unjustly and with 
the purpose of forcing consent to marriage; (3) grave, either ab- 
solutely or relatively. 

In order that fear may be considered absolutely grave, it must 
be such as would influence even a man of courage; but to judge 
whether fear is relatively grave, that is, whether it affects seriously 
any particular person, account must be taken not only of the danger 
that threatens, but also of the character of those who cause the 
fear and of the susceptibility of those against whom the threats are 
directed. Thus the fear in which subjects hold their superior, al- 
though it is reverential, may become grave, if it is augmented by 
threats, quarrels, vexations, etc. When the harm that threatens 
is inconsiderable or not imminent, it does not render the will in- 
capable of resistance; hence the law does not regard such trifling 
fear, and presumes that no one would suffer compulsion therefrom. 

In order to decide, then, whether the marriage of Titus was 
valid, we must examine into the qualities of the fear, which he 
alleges forced his consent. Even though it be granted that this 
fear continued up to the moment of his marriage, yet it is clear 
that the threats of ejection and disinheritance were neither unjust 
nor uttered with the purpose of forcing a marriage. The parents 
of Titus were entirely within their rights when they commanded 
him to break off his unlawful relationship with Sempronia. Their 
own honor, as well as the temporal and spiritual welfare of their 
son was at stake. The punishment they annexed to his disobedience 
was not unjust. Authorities differ as to whether parents are 
obliged from natural justice to will their possessions to their 
children. The dispositions of the civil law on this point are also 


different: in some places (as in most of our States) the testator 
has full liberty to dispose of his property as he sees fit; in others, 
the law determines that a certain portion of the estate must be 
divided between the children. The wild and irresponsible life of 
Titus offered a just reason for his disinheritance; but if the law 
made him a necessary heir, then the threats to disinherit him were 
futile and could not have caused an efficacious fear. Either fear 
did not exist, or it was justly caused. Similar grave and sufficient 
reasons justified the threats of ejection. 

But even though the threats were unjust, they would not suffice 
to render the marriage invalid, since they were not aimed, except 
indirectly, at extorting consent to marriage. The parents sought 
directly the reformation of their son, and, with this end in view, 
proposed to him the marriage with Gertrude. The threats were 
intended to draw him av^^ay from Sempronia, not to force him to 
marry Gertrude. 

Moreover, the fear excited by these menaces was not very con- 
siderable. It appears that Titus was not a timid person and that 
he did not stand in excessive awe of his parents' displeasure; rather 
they seem to have feared him. The prospect of being thrown on his 
own resources was not very formidable to him, as it did not deter 
him only a year later when he abandoned wife and child for the 
sake of Sempronia. Nor would the amount of the fortune in 
question suffice to make the fear of its loss a grave fear. For if 
the parents were able to disinherit Titus, the loss of the fortune 
would mean the loss, not of a right, but of a reward; that is, the 
inheritance whose loss he feared would be a reward offered him on 
condition that he would amend his life. Now Canon Law does not 
regard the danger of losing that to which one has no right but which 
one hopes to obtain, as sufficient to intimidate a steadfast man; 


since in such a case a person would be moved not so much by fear 
of loss as by hope of gain : hope, however, as St. Thomas teaches, 
does not diminish, but increases the voluntariness of an action. The 
fear felt by Titus because of his parents' threats was not serious, 
either relatively or absolutely. 

The repugnance experienced by Titus when pronouncing his con- 
sent during the marriage ceremony is explained by his sinful at- 
tachment for Sempronia and his regret that he would now be 
obliged to give up the old life. His consent to the marriage with 
Gertrude was absolutely voluntary, though partially involuntary; 
just as the merchant who during a storm throws his wares into the 
sea in order to lighten the vessel, does this willingly, although not 
without regret. 

Since, therefore, the fear that Titus experienced did not possess 
the qualities necessary to vitiate consent, it must be concluded that 
his marriage with Gertrude was valid. 



Case. — Zenephon married when a very young man. In social 
condition Lita, his wife, was far below him. They lived a miserable 
life for a few months and then the husband, thinking he could no 
longer endure so unbearable an existence, deserted his wife and 
settled in the far West. After the lapse of ten years Lita engages 
to marry Cliopus. To the pastor she admits her prior marriage, 
informing him that she has never heard directly from her husband, 
but that once, some six years ago, she heard from a mutual friend 
that Zenephon had taken to drink, and then died of Bright's disease 
in a Western hospital. 

Question. — ^What must be done? 

Solution. — The case, like all cases involving the declaration of the 
existence of a true marriage, must be sent to the Matrimonial Court 
of the diocese, which court will then be charged with the duty of 
deciding whether the lady in question is free to enter into new 
espousals or not. No priest, however certain he may be of the 
status of such a case, can pass judgment on it. He may have his 
own convictions, but these do not entitle him to give a decision, or 
to act in the name of the Church in relation to a new marriage. 

Lita must apply to this court and give satisfactory evidence that 
her husband is dead, and that therefore she is, before God, free 
to enter into a valid matrimonial contract with Cliopus. The state- 
ment made by the mutual friend may have been true or may not 
have been true. It may have not been founded on any personal 
knowledge of that mutual friend, but may have been the result of 
pure hearsay. It may have been uttered as the consequence of the 


working of a lively imagination, or may have been a baseless fabri- 
cation begotten in a desire to please. It may be a fact, too, that 
the statement attributed to the mutual friend may never have been 
made ; that the mutual friend had no real existence, for oftentimes 
it happens in such cases that the "wish is father to the thought." 
Lita will be called upon to produce the party who made the state- 
ment, and an examination will be conducted to ascertain the trust- 
worthiness of the witness. It should not be difficult to trace the 
missing husband, since the time and place of his sickness were 
known. The state and hospital records can be searched, and they 
will afford sufficient evidence of his death if it has really occurred. 
This, of course, will take time, but it is absolutely necessary. Zene- 
phon may not have died. He may have recovered, at least partially. 
There is no proof adduced that he really became a drunkard, and 
when we set forth the fact that he was a young man and in good 
health the day he deserted his wife, the presumption is in favor of 
the theory that he is still among the living and, therefore, that Lita 
is still his lawful wife. The burden of changing this presumption 
of life into the presumption of death rests upon her who aspires 
to the new nuptials. Without doubt by using the proper means 
she could find out many facts having an important bearing upon 
her matrimonial status. The Church goes slowly and carefully 
in such cases, for hers it is to safeguard the sacred indissolubility 
of the marriage bond against the self-interest, the emotions, and 
the passions of men. Lita must await the decision of the ecclesi- 
astical court. 



Case. — Eugene a Catholic layman, ^nd professor, is godfather for 
Raymond, a young collegian, who is brought into the true Church 
through Eugene's efforts. Two years later Eulalie, the widowed 
mother of Raymond, also enters the fold through the influence of 
Eugene. The year following she accepts the proposal of her son's 
godfather to wed him. Her Baptism was unconditional as it was 
clearly proven she had never been baptized. The priest applies for 
a dispensation from the impediment of spiritual affinity but is told 
none is necessary. So he marries Eugene (and Eulalie/ without the 

Question. — Is the marriage valid? 

Solution. — It is beyond dispute that this impediment is of eccle- 
siastical origin only. The first traces of it are found in the Council 
of Trullo (692), then in the Council of Rome (721). The Council 
of Trent had in mind the aboHtfton of this impediment, but in the 
end merely modified and restricted its extension. The foundation 
of the impediment is the Sacrament of regeneration, completed by 
Confirmation, whence arises the spiritual relationship analogous to 
the natural relationship begotten by generation. In accordance with 
the present-day legislation of the Church this impediment affects 
only those who come under the jurisdiction of the Church, and as 
this is accomplished by the reception of the Sacrament of Baptism, 
only the baptized meet the requirements for the development of this 
relationship. It is held to be absurd to admit a relationship in the 
spiritual order when one or both of the parties to the relationship 
have not yet been born into that order ; that is, have not yet been 


baptized. Where the relationship does not exist the impediment 
which it begets cannot exist. Hence in the case before us, when 
Eugene stood sponsor for the child of Eulalie by her first husband, 
he did not acquire the usual spiritual relationship, because Eulalie 
was not at that time under the jurisdiction of the Church, as she 
had not been baptized. It follows, then, that at that time there was 
no bar to the union of Eugene and Eulalie. But after the lapse 
of two years, Raymond's mother, now a widow, submits herself to 
the jurisdiction of the Church by voluntarily seeking and receiving 
the Sacrament of Baptism. The question that confronts us now is, 
does the spiritual relationship which did not exist between Eugene 
and Eulalie on the day of her son's baptism, spring into existence 
on the day of her own baptism by virtue of the baptism of Raymond ? 
Does the relationship revive ? On this point theologians are divided. 
-Some are of the opinion that the impediment in question does not 
revive under the given conditions. They assert that this propig,- 
qulty arises at the time of the baptism (Raymond's) or it does no^ 
arise at all. Non firmatur tractu temporis, quod de jure ah initio 
non subsistit. According to this opinion the contractng parties were 
validly married without a dispensation, since no impediment ever 
existed. According to the second opinion the relationship did arise 
fundamentaliter at the time of the child's baptism, but by reason of 
the presence of an obex it could not have its effects. The effect is 
the impediment. When, then, the obex was removed, by the baptism 
of the mother, the effect of the relationship was in full force, and 
the impediment would invalidate the marriage unless first removed 
by the necessary dispensation. Gasparri holds that this opinion "is 
not to be despised." All told, then, we must conclude that the exist- 
ence of said impediment can be held to be doubtful. Since, how- 
ever, a doubtful impediment is treated as non-existent, the parties 


interested could be validly married without a dispensation. We 
think, nevertheless, that in practice a dispensation ad cautelam 
should have been obtained and thus all cause for anxiety removed. 
Under the new Code of Canon Law the impediment of spiritual 
relationship arising from Baptism has been limited to the person 
baptized, the one baptizing and the sponsor or sponsors (Canon 768). 
Hence it does away with the relationship of the sponsors and the 
one baptizing to the parents of the baptized. 



Case. — Cassandra married some ten years ago. Her husband 
became a confirmed drunkard and did not support her. While in 
his cups he was very cruel to her, so she left him, and has not 
seen him for the past five years. She is now keeping house for 
her brother. Philos boards with her brother and is very much 
attached to the married lady. Recently he found that his affection 
was reciprocated and straightway he promised to marry Cassandra, 
whenever her husband's death would make her free to accept him. 
There has not been any question of violation of the obligations 
contracted by her marriage. She has just learned of the death of 
her husband who was accidentally drowned while bathing in the 

Question. — Is Cassandra now free to marry Philos? 
Solution. — The question asked is whether the impediment of crime 
has existence in the case quoted. Since she did not rid herself of 
her husband by conspiring to effect his death, which was brought 
about by circumstances over which she had no control, the solution 
of the case is greatly simplified. Again the absence of the factor 
of adultery removes all complication. We have to deal with a 
promise of marriage made during the existence of a valid marriage, 
which promise is conditioned by the continuance of said valid 
marriage. It looks as if the promise was a mere intention, ex- 
ternally expressed to marry when the law of God would permit 
both parties to contract a valid marriage. If so, no impediment 
of crime could possibly exist. Even if there existed more than 
an intention, a real, bona fide promise to marry when the ex- 


isting impediment would no longer interfere with the contract- 
ing of a valid union before God, it is certain that no impedi- 
ment was begotten by the promise. A promise of marriage, capable 
of begetting a diriment impediment of crime, must be materially 
and formally injurious to the welfare of the already existing union. 
In the absence of adultery and of all desire of conjugicide it can 
not be claimed that the marriage of Cassandra with her worthless 
spouse has suffered any material or formal injury. Hence the 
reasons that urged the Church to institute this impediment have 
no bearing on this case. The marriage with Philos would not of 
itself involve any scandal, and the promise by no means endangered 
the security and well being of the lady's prior union. Evidently 
there is no reason for punishment, which punishment in the decree 
of the Church takes the form of an impediment dirimating the new 
marriage when contracted without the proper dispensation. Briefly, 
then, we hold that there Is no reason why these parties should not 
be validly married. Their marriage would serve to remove any 
proximate danger of sin arising from their living under the same 
roof, and likewise do away with a possible occasion of scandal 
springing from the same fact. (Noldin, Vol. Ill, N 6ii-c.) , 




Case. — David and Lucilla were lawfully married in 1913, but 
they never lived together and the marriage was not consummated. 
David learned that Lucilla had been unfaithful to her marriage 
vows, and he obtained a divorce. Lucilla then married George, 
the co-respondent, before a civil magistrate. To this union several 
children were bom. Subsequently George and Lucilla, repenting 
of their evil course of life, renewed their marriage consent before 
their parish priest, after a dispensation super matrimonio rato et 
non consummato had been granted, as David was still living. 
Question : 

1. What is the impediment of crime? 

2. What is the law regarding dispensation from this impedi- 

3. Was the marriage of George and Lucilla invalidated by the 
impediment of crime? 

Solution : 

1. The diriment impediment of crime arises in three cases: (a) 
between those who in order to marry have conspired against and 
murdered the husband or wife of one of the parties; (b) between 
those who have committed adultery together and also promised or 
attempted marriage, during the life time of the injured husband or 
wife; (c) between adulterers, one of whom murders the injured 
spouse in order to contract marriage with the partner in guilt. 

2. Since this impediment was established by ecclesiastical law, 
the Church may always dispense from it. In case of public horn- 


icide, however, it is never dispensed. When adultery has been 
joined with attempted marriage, the dispensation is granted only 
for grave reasons. The impediment is not incurred by infidels, but 
it holds if one of the parties is Qiristian. Whether ignorance of 
the impediment excuses is a disputed question, but the negative 
view is the more common. For while the impediment is intended 
as a punishment, the chief purpose of the Church is to remove the 
reason for such crimes by rendering the guilty ones disqualified for 
marriage. It can easily happen, though, that the impediment aris- 
ing from adultery and attempted marriage be overlooked by those 
who, seeking to have their civil marriage validated, ask for a dis- 
pensation super matrimonio rato et non consummate, or a declara- 
tion of liberty on account of the presumed death of the former 
consort. Hence the Church, in order to prevent the danger of in- 
validity, has provided that in such cases the dispensation from the 
impediment of crime, so contracted, shall be considered as granted 
through the concession of the dispensation or declaration sought 
for. (S. C. Sacr. 3 Junii, 1912.) This decree is retroactive and 
grants the revalidation and sanation of any marriage that had for 
this reason been invalid before. 

3. The first marriage of George and Lucilla was of course in- 
valid. Moreover, it induced the impediment of crime. For from 
what was said in the first paragraph under (b) it follows that this 
impediment results when a divorced person contracts and consum- 
mates a civil union during the hfetime of the lawful spouse; so 
that even after the former husband or wife has died, the second 
marriage cannot be revalidated without a dispensation. However, 
the second marriage of George and Lucilla was valid. The dispen- 
sation granted them included the dispensation from the impediment 
of crime. 



Case. — Henry, baptized a Catholic but brought up as a Presby- 
terian, wishes to marry Caja, a Catholic girl, and is willing to con- 
form to the conditions imposed by the Church. The pastor of Caja 
commissions his assistant to perform the ceremony without dis- 
pensation, as Henry according to the decree "Ne temere" may be 
regarded as a Catholic, and therefore requires no dispensation. 
The assistant, however, does not agree with this view and refuses 
to perform the ceremony. 

Question. — Which is right, the pastor or the assistant? 


1. The decree *'Ne temere" deals with the ecclesiastical form 
required for the validity of the marriage, not with the ordinary 
impediments. Whether, therefore, apart from the essential form 
of the marriage, there exists an impediment to the marriage be- 
tween Henry and Caja, is to be decided not according to the decree 
"Ne temere," but according to the other ecclesiastical marriage laws 
that have remained in force. 

2. The marriage between Henry and Caja comes under the 
Catholic Marriage form, not merely because Caja is a Catholic, 
but also because Henry, although de facto a non-Catholic, was 
baptized in the Church and is therefore numbered with those sub- 
ject to the decisions of the decree "Ne temere." 

3. Therefore the marriage of Henry and Caja is to be regarded 
as a mixed marriage, forbidden by the Church, and for its lawful 
contracting there is required, besides an important reason on the 


part of Caja, also a dispensation. Despite his Catholic baptism 
Henry has been brought up entirely as a Presbyterian, and doubt- 
less is numbered amongst the members of that denomination: this 
suffices to render the projected union a mixed marriage which is 
forbidden to a Catholic. 

4. Caja's pastor, therefore, before performing this marriage 
must, with a statement of the reasons which make this union 
advisable, apply for dispensation and secure the required guarantee 
for the fulfilment of the prescribed conditions. The assistant was 
correct in refusing to undertake the ceremony under the circum- 



Case. — Xystus (baptized) and Petrina (never baptized) were 
married some years ago, without the necessary dispensations. A 
year ago the Ecclesiastical Court declared the union null and void. 
Petrina accepts this decision, but will not permit Xystus to petition 
for a divorce. He can marry if he chooses, she says. She will 
never molest him, but financial reasons render her obstinate in her 
refusal to give civil freedom to the man whom she was wont to 
call husband. 

Xystus wishes to marry a Catholic lady, but as they cannot 
obtain the license, the pastor cannot, according to the civil law 
officiate without danger of imprisonment. After a year's fruitless 
argument with Petrina and with the pastor, Xystus takes his young 
lady to the church and there in the presence of two witnesses they 
exchange matrimonial consent in the absence of the pastor. 

Question. — Is this marriage valid in the eyes of the Church? 

Solution. — The marriage law of Pius X. demands the assistance 
of a competent priest for the validity of marriage. But an exception 
is made when a competent priest cannot be had, and this condition 
lasts for a month. The Sacred Congregation of the Sacraments 
(March 12th, 1910) gave an authentic Interpretation of this clause. 
Marriage can be validly and lawfully contracted, before witnesses 
alone and without the presence of the competent priest, whenever 
the engaged parties can neither send for him nor go to him without 
grave inconvenience, and have already waited for a full month. 
According to Canon 1098 of the new Code the same privilege may 
be used whenever it can prudently be foreseen that within the spacei 


of a month neither bishop nor pastor nor a delegated priest can be 
called or approached without serious inconvenience : "In mortis 
periculo validum et licitum est matrimonium contractum coram 
solis testibus et etiam extra mortis periculum, dummodo prudenter 
praevideatur cam rerum conditionem, scil. si haberi vel adiri 
nequeat sine gravi incommodo parochus aut loci ordinarius vel 
sacerdos delegatus, esse per mensem duraturam." This privilege 
can be made use of then whenever these two conditions are present, 
viz.: (1) grave inconvenience, (2) which has lasted for a month 
or more. Nothing is said concerning the nature of the inconven- 
ience. The requirement is that it be grave and affect the engaged 
parties, or the priest, or both, whereby they are prevented from 
going to him or he is prevented from officiating. This applies to 
individual cases as well as to a general condition existing in some 
general locality or in some particular nation or nations. Where, 
then, the pastor, is prevented from assisting at a marriage of his 
subjects, by reason of the provisions of the civil code, that is when 
he cannot officiate without subjecting himself to severe penalties, 
such as imprisonment or fine, the condition of grave inconvenience 
exists and the privilege may be made use of to contract a valid 
marriage. It is true that the Congregation of the Council, July 27th, 
1908, in answer to the question : ''Should provision be made, for 
the case in which the civil law forbids the parish priest under heavy 
penalties to assist at a marriage before the civil ceremony, when 
such cannot take place and, nevertheless, the marriage is absolutely 
necessary for the salvation of souls ?" replied "there is no answer." 
But this was anterior to the interpretation of March, 1910, by the 
Congregation of the Sacraments. Hence the refusal of the Con- 
gregation of the Council has no effect on the decision of 1910. 
Readily enough then it will be allowed that in the case of Xystus 


there is a very grave inconvenience, a grave civic impediment, which 
makes it morally impossible for the pastor to assist at the new 
marriage. tOf course the priest could assist and run the risk of 
punishment by the civil authorities, but he is in no way bound to 
do this in the present case. As this condition of affairs has lasted 
more than a month, it must be admitted that Xystus can in foro 
ecclesiae, contract a valid and licit marriage (provided no canonical 
impediment exists) in the presence of the two witnesses without the 
assistance of the pastor. (Cf. De Smet, Betrothment and Mar- 
riage, Vol. I, Note 69, sq.) 



Case. — Antonius marries a certain Sempronia, who before con- 
tracting this marriage had been sponsor at the baptism of Bertha, 
the illegitimate child of her friend Veronica. As the father of 
Bertha, Veronica had named one Titus, but in reality it was Anto- 
nius, so that between him and Sempronia there existed the impedi- 
ment ex cognatione spirituali (inter levantem levataeque patrem).* 
For some time the two had lived in putative wedlock when Sem- 
pronia got knowledge of the real relation of Antonius and Bertha. 
Deeply chagrined but without suspicion of her invalid marriage, 
she told her trouble in confession to a missionary. She could not 
reproach her husband, she said, without bringing upon herself 
serious quarrels and other bad consequences. The confessor, al- 
though he is certain about the invalidity of the marriage, believes, 
from motives of pastoral prudence, that he should not enlighten 
Sempronia ; for, on the one hand, he is obliged to leave town within 
an hour's time, and therefore cannot possibly conduct dispensation 
proceedings himself, on the other hand Sempronia, for the reasons 
given, would not be in a position to tell her husband of the invalid- 
ity of their marriage. Supported by Lehmkuhl (II. 11, n. 1054 
and 1055), Gopfert (III., 6, n. 229 and 271) and Noldin, (de usu 
matrimonii, 11, n. 97) in the probable opinion that in casu gravis- 
simi incommodi an impedimentum juris mere ecclesiastici ceases, 
he induces the penitent in a prudent way to a renewal of marriage 
consent, and absolves her with the encouragement: "Strive as 

* Canon 768 of the new Code of Canon Law abolishes the relationship of 
the sponsors to the parents of the baptized. 


much as possible to keep up a good understanding with your 
husband !" 

Question. — Quid ad casumf 

Solution. — The case is a very evident example of how occasion- 
ally the practical application of moral principles may and must 
soften the strict directions of Canon Law. A Canonist who would 
believe in carrying his principles to the last consequences, would 
be displeased at the missionary's action, whilst a Moralist might 
deal with him more leniently. The missionary relies upon Lehm- 
kuhl, Gopfert and Noldin for his chosen procedure. Both the 
latter, however, refer to Lehmkuhl in this matter, so that really 
Lehmkuhl is the only authority holding this view. Almost all 
Moralists and Canonists treat this question: though most of them 
only in the so-called casus perplexus, when, namely, a diriment 
impediment to marriage is discovered immediately before the mar- 
riage ceremony, and there is no time to obtain the requisite dis- 
pensation. Lehmkuhl is probably the first one to apply this solu- 
tion of the casus perplexus also to the convalidatio matrimonii 
jam contracti. At least I know of no other author who so extends 
it. Noldin, Gopfert, Wernz, Ballerini-Palmieri, who hold the same 
opinion, refer to Lehmkuhl and mention no other authority. Feije 
{De impedimentls et dispensationihus matrimonialihiis n. 646), 
however, who treats very thoroughly this power of dispensation, 
says: "Multo magis deherent rationes adductae valere pro impedi- 
mento post contractum matrimonium detecto et tempore celebratio- 
nis ignorato; hoc tamen fatentihus omnibus, non cessat." Since 
therefore Lehmkuhl appears to lead in this matter, it will repay us 
to repeat here his views on the subject, as they are found in the 
eleventh edition. 

"Quid faciendum confessario, si destitutus est facultate dispen- 


sandi (super impedimento dirimente matrimonii ex jure ecclesias- 
tico) neque ea jam haberi possit. 

R. 1. Si in bona fide est poenitens circa valorem matrimonii, 
plerumque expedit in bona fide eum relinquere, sed sub alio prae- 
textu eum, mover e, ut post certum tempus ad confessionem apud 
ipsum ilium confessarium redeat; interim quaerat confessarius 
facultatem dispensandi, ut redeunti possit totam rem exponere 
eumque statim habilem ad contrahendum verum matrimonium effi- 
cere." In this probably all theologians agree. In practice it will 
be best to obtain at once the sanatio in radice because then no diffi- 
culties can arise concerning a renewal of the consent. 

R. 2. ''Si poenitens scit matrimonii .mdlitatem evitare ver*a 
debitum conjugale aliquo praetextu, itinere, etc., impossible nan 
est, quamquam cum difficultate conjunctum: debet id omnino fieri." 
Since this solution often appears impossible Lehmkuhl continues: 

R. 3. "Si neque tam cito dispensatio obtineri potest neque evi- 
iari debitum conjugale sine urgente periculo gravissimi mali, ut 
diffamationis, scandali, etc., videtur lex ecclesiastica irritans cessare, 
ita ut nunc putativi conjuges habiles evadant ad efficiendum matri- 
monium validum . . . quamquam obligatio manet recurrendi statim 
ad legitimum superiorem, turn ut pro cautela certior fiat dispen- 
satio, turn ut crimine admisso suscipiatur justa poena, et superioris 
mandato oboedientia praestetur . . ." 

Ut autem hujus responsi — quod legenti forte benignius videtur — 
breviter rationem dem; moveor auctoritate S. AlphonsL St. Al- 
phonsus and the early authors, however, speak merely of the casus 
perplexus, as already remarked. Lehmkuhl then continues : ''Sed 
ut meam promam sententiam — si in tali casu {ante matrimonium) 
lex probabiliter cessat, cur non idem dicamus in altero (post matri- 
monium invalide contractum) ubi similis, immo major necessitas 


graviusque damnum immineatf" It is of interest to note how the 
distinguished Jesuit Wernz expresses himself on this view in his 
great work Jus Decretal'mm (IV. n. 619, nota 87) "Profecto haec 
doctrina probatorum auctorum, qua confessarius in istis augustiis 
declarare potest, impedimentum cessare, sed cum onere quodam 
saltern convenientiae legis post contractum matrhnonium recurrendi 
ad Ordinarium vel S. Poenitentiariam, ut dispensatio ad caufelam 
obtineatur et executioni mandetur, per rationes intrinsecas diffi- 
cult er probatur.'* 

It would indeed be difficult to give intrinsic, valid reasons for 
this opinion. Yet it has been attempted and in two different ways. 
First of all, many authorities, for instance Thomas Sanchez, who 
quotes more than twenty authors in support of his opinion, claims 
that the bishop, and also the priests delegated by him, can in cases 
of necessity set aside obstacles to marriage by dispensation, as in 
such a case a silent delegation of the Pope is present. The Pope, 
thus Sanchez holds, would in such a case certainly delegate his 
powers of dispensation to the bishop and priests, as otherwise 
great scandal and detriment would arise for the Church. In these 
days nearly all bishops possess in their Quinquennal faculties far- 
reaching, positive powers of dispensation, even in regard to diriment 
impediments; so that hardly a case may happen for which they 
could not grant the needed dispensation. In some dioceses the 
bishop permanently delegates this power to confessors for cases 
of necessity. A similar faculty, though only pro matrimonio jam 
contracto, is granted to all confessors in the so-called Pagella S. 
Poenitentiariae. Since this Pagella, which includes other most 
practical faculties, is readily given, all missionaries at least should 
secure it. It would enable them to solve easily many difficulties. 
If power of dispensation is expressly granted to bishop or priests, 


then of course there is no difficulty. Whether, however, every 
confessor has in the case of need, to avoid scandal and harm, the 
power to dispense eo ipso from the canonical impediments, as 
Thomas Sanchez opines, is very problematical. I am unaware of 
any direct proof to support such view and probably there is none. 
For this reason other authorities, as for instance St. Alphonsus, 
teach that pastors and confessors cannot actually dispense in such 
cases of need, because this particular power is granted them neither 
tacite nor even in most cases explicite, but they can declare that 
the Church law concerning the impediment is to cease in such a 
case of need, because its observance would be very detrimental. 
Herewith the difficult question is opened whether a lex irritans — 
such as a diriment impediment ceases in casu gravissimi incommodi. 
D'Annibale who is not generally regarded as a rigorist, replies with 
a categorical "no." He says: "Nullam epikiam recipiunt (leges 
irritantes) atque ideo nullum incommodum, ne gravissimum quidem 
ah eis servandis excusat" (Summula Theol. Mor., 3, I, 216). He 
claims for his support Thomas Sanchez, who explains the matter 
as follows : It is not actually the positive Church law that imposes 
so difficult a restriction, since no positive law, as such, obliges under 
conditions of great harm. This important restriction proceeds 
rather from the natural and the Divine law, which allow marital 
intercourse only between two persons who have contracted a legit- 
imate marriage. The parties in the case, however, are unable to 
contract a legitimate marriage: consequently matter and form are 
lacking in such a sacramental union. In fact the claim that in 
gravissimo incommodo the lex irritans of impediments ceases, can- 
not generally be maintained. The impedimentum ordinis is mani- 
festly only of an ecclesiastical nature, nevertheless a priest can 
never, not even upon his deathbed and despite utmost necessity, 


enter into a valid marriage. Furthermore, what would we come 
to, if in cases of necessity an ecclesiastical lex irritatis could readily 
be set aside? Would not arbitrariness be given full rein? St. 
Alphonsus gives as warrant for the cessation of a lex irritans: 
"Cessat lex, quando potius est nociva, quam utilis. Et licet hie non 
cesset finis legis in communi, sed in particulari; cum tamen cessat 
finis legis in contrariwm, lex etiam cessat, ut omnes conveniunt." 
Of course, if this be correct without restriction, then we cannot 
see why a priest could not change an illegitimate union under 
certain conditions into a valid marriage. The circumstances might 
be such that the lex ecclesiastica is actually nociva and that the 
finis legis in contrarium cessavit. 

From the above it must be plain that no intrinsic valid grounds are 
at hand either for the confessor's faculty to dispense, nor for the 
cessation of the lex irritans impedimenti in such a case of necessity. 
It is greatly to be desired that, like the far-reaching powers for 
dispensation granted by Leo XIII. and Pius X. for validating mar- 
riages on the deathbed, also powers of dispensation be granted 
for the casus per plexus and similar cases of necessity. Meantime, 
however, the views of St. Alphonsus, Lehmkuhl, Noldin, Gennari, 
Gopfert, Ballerini-Palmieri, etc. are to be accorded at least ex- 
trinsic probability. In the Acts of the South American Plenary 
Council, of 1899, approved by Leo XIII., the solution of the casus 
perplexus according to St. Alphonsus (Theol. Mor. lib. VI., n. 613) 
is recommended. This may be taken as an indication that the 
Roman Curia does not oppose the practical application of the view 
of St. Alphonsus. 

Let us now attempt to solve the case In point. The missionary 
is not to be reproached on account of his mode of procedure, as 
he has followed the opinion of weighty authorities. It is true. 


nevertheless, that all authorities require that after such solution 
of the case ad cautelam either the sanatio in radice or simplex dis- 
pensatio be obtained. But this demand is made as a matter of 
propriety rather than as a matter of necessity. Of course, most 
authorities let the above solution apply only to impedimenta occidta 
(such as crimen, or affinitas ex copula illicita) not however to 
impediments which according to their nature are public, although 
de facto secret. The cognatio spiritualis belongs by its nature to 
the public impediments, but Gennari rightly extends the above 
solution also to "impedimenta materialiter publica, formaliter au- 
tem occulta." The cognatio spiritualis is in the given case still 
secret, therefore, formaliter occulta. Though the missionary's 
mode of action is not open to censure, it is not to be commended. 
He contented himself with probabilities in a very important matter 
where the validity of the Sacrament of Matrimony stood in question. 
How easy it would have been to proceed much more securely and 
correctly ! For instance, he might have told Sempronia to take up 
this matter with her confessor in her next confession, because the 
matter was very important and her confessor would undoubtedly 
help her. Should Sempronia refuse to do this, the missionary 
might have subsequently sought the sanatio in radice from the 
Poenitentiaria and thus have validated the invalid marriage. In- 
deed, all authorities recommend that at least ad cautelam recourse 
should be had subsequently to the proper authority. A missionary 
who is likely to meet with such cases ought to secure the Pagella 
of the Poenitentiaria, or even wider faculties. They will not be 
refused him by the competent authorities. 



Case.—C^Lia, had in the unmarried state by sinful intimacy with 
Cajus, a wealthy and respected citizen, borne him a daughter, 
Caroline. This has been kept a profound secret, and it never 
became known that Cajus was the father of Caroline. 

Now Caroline married, in forma ecclesiae consueta, without hav- 
ing the slightest suspicion, her cousin Charles, the son of a brother 
of Cajus. The impediment of blood relationship of the second 
degree was not discovered; it was known only to Caja and Cajus, 
and these two kept silence. Indeed, Cajus, pleased at the idea of 
providing at the same time for his natural daughter and his nephew, 
presented to the young couple a house as a wedding-gift and in- 
tended to make them the heirs to all his property. Thus Charles 
and Caroline live together in the best of harmony, they have sev- 
eral children, and naturally think a great deal of "Uncle." Caja, 
however, is a victim of remorse, since through her fault her daugh- 
ter is materially living in concubinage; but, she does not dare 
to proclaim the paternity of Cajus, lest she defame him and destroy 
moreover the happiness of the couple. Finally she makes the whole 
matter known to her confessor and asks his advice and assistance. 

Question. — Quid faciendum? 


1. The confessor asks himself three questions and solves them 
as follows: 

(a) Did Caja sin by not revealing at the right time the impedi- 
ment of blood relationship? 

Without doubt she sinned, saltern objective. Canonists and 


Moralists agree that by reason of the banns of marriage all those 
who know of an obstacle to the marriage are strictly obliged, out 
of respect for the sacrament, from the natural duty of charity, 
and in obedience to the positive commandment of the Church, 
to reveal the obstacle in the proper manner. From this duty of 
manifestation not even the secretum naturale and promissum ex- 
cuse. Only the seal of confession, professional secrecy, and the 
actual secretum commissum, or the danger of grave harm to one's 
self or one's family, releases from the obligation of revealing the 
existing obstacle (Wernz, Jus Decretalium IV. n. 143. Bucceroni 
Theologia Moralis II. n. 953). Had Caja before the marriage of 
her daughter taken the priest into her confidence, a defamation of 
Cajus need not have been feared. It could have been arranged 
to obtain secretly and without the knowledge of the contracting 
parties the requisite dispensation from the Holy See. The Canon- 
ists state explicitly that the petition for dispensation may be made 
by a third party (the parents of the bride, or the pastor). It is 
necessary, of course, in this case that the young couple after the 
dispensation has been obtained, accept it either expressly or tacitly, 
as the acceptatio dispensationis by those in whose favor it is 
obtained is required, as a rule, for the legality of the dispensation 
(St. Alphonsus, Theol. Mor.; de matr. n. 1145). But this accep- 
tance by the young couple could in the present case be prudently 
carried out without disclosing Cajus' paternity to the bride; more- 
over the Holy See may under certain circumstances so remove an 
impediment to marriage that it does not require the acceptatio dis- 
pensationis on the part of those affected. Therefore Caja had 
every reason to feel remorse. 

(b) Is Caja even now obliged to take steps that her daughter's 
.illegal marriage be made valid? 


Yes, she is under this obligation : ratione peccati materialis, for 
the marriage of Caroline to Charles is a continued material con- 
cubinage, through the fault of Caja, by her guilty silence, when she 
could and should have spoken ex justitia et caritate. Through her 
fault the supposed spouses are deprived of the graces and effects 
of the holy Sacrament; and, moreover, there is the ever-present 
danger that by some unforeseen accident the truth may come out, 
and then the happiness of this couple and of their children may be 
gone forever. 

(c) What then Is to be done to set this matter right? Caja 
has done vi^ell to confide the whole matter to her confessor before 
informing her daughter of the illegality of her marriage, or before 
declaring it so in foro externa. In either case scandal, danger and 
injury could hardly have been spared the couple. Under the cir- 
cumstances the confessor can not direct Caja to take one step or 
the other, he may not even advise this. After the matter has 
gone so far there is only one remedy: the sanatio in radice to be 
petitioned from the Holy See. The four conditions under which 
sanatio in radice is granted by the Holy See (C/. Wernz IV. n. 657- 
660) are present in this case: a real consent to marriage since the 
beginning, continuance of the consent, a purely ecclesiastical im- 
pediment, and, weighty reasons for a dispensation. The obtaining 
of the sanatio through a third party without the knowledge of 
the husband and wife is possible and legal: there is no other way 
in this case. Therefore the confessor considers himself in duty 
bound to adopt this means. He might make the matter easy for 
himself by following those Moralists who assert the principle: Si 
impedimentum sit occultum et conjuges sint in bona fide, in ea 
sunt regulariter relinquendi (Bucceroni /. c. n. 1034). But with 
Wernz his standpoint is that in view of the present practice of the 


Holy See regarding the sanatio in radice it would be improper 
simply to decide: dissiniulandum, silendum. "Qua ratione certe 
peccata formalia impediuntur, at conjuges vivunt in concubinatu 
materiali carentque sacramento matrimonii et gratia sacramentali. 
Quae damna et tantoruni bonorum privatio per dissimulationem 
non reparantiir." Thus Wernz /. c. n. 660. The confessor in this 
case actually proceeded then in presenting to the St. Poenitentiaria, 
in Caja's name, a full statement, and request for the sanatio in 
radice of the marriage between Charles and Caroline. 

2. After about two weeks the answer came from the S. Poe- 
nitentiaria. But it was not the disposition he had expected. Upon 
the reverse side of his petition he found written: "S. Poeniten- 
tiaria circa praemissa respondet silendum esse omnino et praefatos 
putatos conjuges relinquendos esse in bona fide." 

Therewith this case of conscience was solved in the simplest way 
imaginable. Caja was supremely happy and grateful to her con- 
fessor for having delivered her from her qualms of conscience. 
The matter was ended also as far as the confessor was concerned. 
But he wished to understand theoretically why Rome's answer had 
thus turned out. He figured it out as follows: 

Had the Holy See perhaps, with the command to keep the matter 
secret, implicitly validated this marriage ? This was not impossible. 
The sanatio in radice may be granted, and is often granted, with- 
out executio and acceptatio (Wernz I. c. n. 660, Noldin Summa 
Theol. Mor. HI. n. 664, 5). In the present case an executio 
through Caja's confessor was impossible and an acceptatio difficult 
to procure. But if the Holy See thus granted the sanatio, then the 
confessor needed no further mandatum than to keep silence, and 
to impose the same upon Caja. Already in the early usage of 
the Church a legalization of invalidly contracted marriages was 


known in the form of a mandatum de silentio, and there are Canon- 
ists who in this practice perceive the origin of the sanatio in radice 
(Wernz /. c. n. 654). 

Nevertheless we do not consider that the answer of the S. P. 
in this case is to be understood as an implicit validation of the puta- 
tive marriage. Since the confessor requested not a general validation 
of the putative marriage, but in terminis the sanatio in radice, it is 
not probable that the Holy See would have chosen an obscure and 
evasive form of answer. Decisive is the word "putatos" in the 
Responsum of the S. P. The putatively married are to be left in 
good faith, therefore they have not now become actually married. 

The sanatio asked for was, therefore, not granted. Why not? 
There are possible here only suppositions. Perhaps the Holy See 
considered the mere lack of validity not as a causa gravis so long 
as the danger of formal sins or scandals remained excluded, 
through the good faith of the couple. The S. P. might indeed not 
consider the invalidity of the marriage as certain. Who can tell 
whether Caroline did not after all know of her actual parentage, 
and had perhaps obtained a dispensation before or after the cere- 
mony? Illegitimate children often know more of their affairs than 
their mothers imagine. Perhaps Cajus himself secretly had the 
pastor put everything in order for the young couple, when his 
natural daughter became engaged to his nephew. Finally, it must 
be considered that consanguinity, even if due to illegitimate birth, 
is according to its nature a public impediment to marriage. Cajus' 
paternity thus far had been successfully kept a secret, but it may 
yet through some accident become known in foro externo. What 
then, if meantime the marriage between Charles and Caroline had 
been, secretly and without knowledge of even one of the parties, 
made valid? Then the now valid marriage would have to be de- 


clared in foro externa as invalid, and husband and wife, not know- 
ing of the validation of their marriage, might optima fide separate. 
In place of material concubinage there would then be material 
adultery — and there would be no longer a possibility of sanation. 
Which is preferable ? Be that as it may ; the case was satisfactorily 
solved for all concerned. 


Treated in the Five Volumes of THE CASUIST 

(The Numbers Refer to Volume and Page) 

ABORTUS, III, 265 ; IV, 38, 48. 
ABSOLUTION, see also Confession. 

— Absolutio a Censuris, I, 36; III, 336. 

— Absolutio complicis, III, 257. 

— Absolutio in Periculo Mortis, by 
newly ordained priest without juris- 
diction, III, 319. 

— Absolution feigned, III, 283. 

— Absolution, invalid, I, 311. 

— Absolution of an unconscious per- 
son, II, 197. 

— Absolution of nuns, V, 188. 

— Absolution of Peregrini, V, 186. 

— Absolution of dying heretics, II, 290 ; 
III, 40. 

— Absolution pronounced in absence of 
penitent, in case of sick calls, I, 184. 

— Absolution from reserved cases, V, 

— Absolution, lack of, V, 179. 

— Absolution on battlefield, V, 218. 
Abstaining from flesh-meat, IV, 53. 
Abstinence, law of, for soldiers, IV, 28. 
Adjusting of Mass stipends, I, 63. 
Administering the Last Sacraments to 

feeble-minded. III, 218. 

Administration of the Holy Viaticum 
to one unconscious from a paralytic 
strt-ke, II, 241. 

— , of the Last Sacraments to Children 
over the age of six in danger of 
death, II, 169. 

— , of the Last Sacraments (Incl. Via- 
ticum) to dangerously sick children 
under six years of age, II, 173. 

Advice in the matter of vocation, V, 90. 

Admission to Holy Orders, II, 236. 

Age for Confirmation, II, 181. 

Altar of exposition. III, 298. 

Altars, their desecration, II, 121 ; III, 

250, 2^2. 

— , privileged, V, 151. 

Anticipating the office, II, 49; III, 35. 

Apostate, irregularities of, IV, 309. 

Apparitions and Phenomena, II, 212; 

V, 210. 
— , of Poor Souls, V, 210. 
Appropriating another's ideas, I, 2^. 
Arson and restitution, II, 158. 
Assault, II, 195. 

BAPTISM, I, 139, 151, 243, 331; n. 
24, 205, 210, 248; III, 90, 109; IV, 

— , of children the offspring of civil 

marriages, IV, 328. 
— , of child, where must it take place, 

I, iSi. 

— , of illegitimate children, II, 205. 

— , of Jew, IV, 326. 

— , protestant godmother, IV, 257. 

— , spiritual affinity, V, 278, 290. 

— , non-Catholic sponsors, V, 102. 

— , invalid, V, 100, 107. 

— , the reiteration of, V, 100, 107. 

— , intention required in adults, V, 104. 

— , parents as sponsors, V, 113. 

— -, priests as sponsors, V, 113. 

— , can Religious be sponsors at, V, 

Baptisms, conditional, II, 24S. 
Baptized non-Catholics bound by the 

laws of the Church, I, 160. 
Baptizing an infant in the mother's 

womb, I, 331. 
Battlefield, absolution on the, V, 218. 
Bequest for Masses in the testament of 

a suicide. III, 182. 
Bequests for charity cancelled by court, 

II, 6s. 86. 
Betrothals, see Marriage. 
Birth Control, V, 252, 303. 

Blessing the Easter water on holy 

Saturday, III, 99. 
Breach of contract, IV, 294. 
Burial of children, II, 294. 
— of suicides. Hi, 212. 




— of freemasons, IV, 71. 
Buyer concealing from seller the real 
value of property, V, 71. 

CALUMNIATOR, duties of, V, 58 seqq. 
Calumny, of the dead, V, 57. 
Cases, reserved, V, 183. 
Cancer, administration of the Viaticum 

in cases of, IV, 128. 
Castellane-Gould marriage, V, 270. 
Celebrans indice impeditio, III, 143. 
Celebratio and binatio, after breaking 

the fast, II, 268. 
Censures, I, 36, 240, 248 ; III, 265. 
Ceremonies of Holy Week, I, 17; III, 

Charity, the duties of, V, 15 seqq. 
Childbirth, a new operation, IV, 249. 
Children, the education of, in a mixed 

marriage, V, 257, 261. 
Churching of women after illegitimate 

childbirth, I, 11. 
Church linens, washing, II, 96. 
Civil laws binding in conscience, II, 86. 
Clergyman's demeanor, II, 263. 
Cleric in minor orders acting as sub- 
deacon, II, 29. 
Clerical censure, I, 44. 
Communicatio in Sacris, V, 14. 
COMMUNION of a newly baptized 

convert without Confession, I, 49. 
— , daily, IV, 180, 210, 276. 
— , dispensation from fasting before, 

IV, 323; V, 134- 
— , refused to public sinners, V, 309. 
— , and venial sins, V, 205. 
— , given to one who has accidentally 

not been absolved in confession, V, 

— , abstinence from, given as a pen- 
ance, V, 176. 
— , fasting before, IV, 7. 
— , on Holy Saturday, IV, 238. 
' — , mistaken adherence to the rule in 

convents an obstacle to daily, IV, 

<— ', receiving twice on same day, IV, 

31 ; V, 120. 
• — , the conditions for receiving when 

not fasting, V, 125. 
Commutation of the simple vows of 

celibacy, I, 67. 

Company keeping, I, 292. 
Compensation for not having prevented 

injury, IV, 116. 
Compensatio occulta and restrictio men- 

talis. III, 288. 
Concealing the real value of an object, 

I, 198. 
CONFESSION, see also Absolution. 

— Absolutio in periculo mortis by young 
priest without jurisdiction. III, 319. 

— Absolution given by mistake to a 
penitent who has not confessed, for 
one who has confessed, I, 73. 

— Absolution omitted by forgetfulness, 
V, 176. 

— Absolving penitents without admoni- 
tion, II, 112. 

— An incomplete yet valid Confession, 
III, 156. 

— A Penitent's recourse to the Sacred 
Penitentiary, III, 175. 

— , before Celebration, IV, 281. 

— • , Absolution from reserved cases, V, 

— , absolving conditionally, V, 193. 

— and absolution on Battlefield, V, 218. 
— , complete, and questioning a peni- 
tent, V, 191. 

— , doubts about completeness, V, 193. 
— , the treatment of habitual drunkard 

in, V, 202. 
— , how to treat discouraged penitents, 

V, 205. 

— , dealing with penitents whose venial 
sins give scandal, V, 209. 

— , defective, V, 160, 166. 

— Can an indefinite and general ac- 
cusation, except in a case of neces- 
sity, suffice for Confession, and is 
it permitted? Ill, 225. 

— Children's Confessions, II, 2S3. 

— ■ Conferring of a dispensation and the 
seal of Confession, I, 65. 

— Confessarius extraneus : A case from 
the law of Regulars, I, 303. 

— Confession by telephone, I, 94. 

— Confession of a dying person, mater- 
ial and formal integrity, I, 189. 

— Confession of a newly baptized con- 
vert, I, 49. 

— Confession of a rebaptized convert, 
I. 7. 



-Confession of nuns. III, 313; V, 188. 
-Confession quam primum, I, 135. 

- Confessions in foreign languages, IV, 

■ Confessions of the clergy, IV, 240. 
•Confessio Externa Fidei, IV, 107. 

• Doubtful restitution ; decision of the 
confessor ; consequences to the con- 
fessor, III, 153. 

■Envy as mortal sin. III, 261. 

• Forgetting to give absolution, II, 228. 
•Imposition in the confessional. III, 


• Inquiring in Confession for the name 
of an accomplice, I, 103. 

•Jurisdiction for Confession of nuns, 

III, 313; V, 188. 

•Jurisdiction, II, 219; III, 238, 313, 

•, Jurisdictio dubia, IV, 313. 

•, Jurisdictio suppleta, IV, 233. 

•, expired jurisdiction, V, 181. 

•, general, V, 172. 

■heard in street, V, 216. 

•, incompleteness of, V, 160, 166, 

• , ignorance in, V, 199. 

■, lying in, V, 168. 

•, questioning a penitent in, V, 191. 

•, sacrilegious, V, 166. 

■, feigned scrupulousness in, V, 175. 

•, the seal of, V, 193. 

• , must the time when sin was com- 
mitted be stated? V, 168. 

•, made during Mass of obligation, 

IV, 268. 

■Materia absolutionis, I, 189, 311; 

III, 147. 

■ Misuse of General Confession by 
penitents of the female sex, III, 211. 

•Necessity of Contrition in the Sacra- 
ment of Penance, III, 196. 

•Necessity of General Confession for 
a convert rebaptized sub conditione, 
I, 7. 

■ Never refuse to hear a Confession, 

IV, 138. 

-Perfect contrition. III, 170. 

- Preserving the seal of Confession by 
the confessor against himself. III, 


■Presuming jurisdiction, II, 219. 
-Questionable Penance, IV, 135. 

many penitents are waiting. III, 147. 
penitent's reputation. III, 167. 

— Shortening of Confessions when 
many penitents are waiting. III, 147. 

■ — The Confession of a person hard of 
hearing. III, 194. 

— The seal of Confession, II, 44; III, 

Confessor, the threefold ofifice of, V, 

Confirmation, II, 181. 
— , necessity of, V, no. 
— , parents as sponsors, V, 113. 
— , priests as sponsors, V, 113. 
— , obligation to receive, V, no. 
— , sponsors for, V, 113. 
Consecration, I, 92, 131, 279, 256; III, 

143, 306. 
— , doubtful, I, 131. 
— , outside of holy Mass ever valid? 

II, 252. 
Contract, breach of, IV, 294. 
Contrition, when sufficient ad sacra 

without Confession, IV, 244. 
Convent, forcing a person to enter, V, 

Conversion on account of marriage, I, 

49 ; V, 104. 
— , through hypnotic suggestion, I, 320. 
— , from Eastern Schism, IV, 303. 
Co-operantes ad furtum, III, 94. 
Cooperation in non-Catholic worship, 

funerals, etc., I, 145 ; II, 185, 225 ; 

V, 4, 6, 14. 
— , direct and indirect, V, 36. 
— , formal or material, V, 6, 36. 
— , in injustice, V, 45. 
Correction, I, 208, 213. 
Counterfeit money. III, 296. 
Craniotomy, does its performance in- 
cur excommunication? Ill, 178. 
Cremation, II, 33 ; IV, 332. 
Criminal condemned to death, may he 

execute himself ? V, 27 seqq. 
Crystal gazing, V, 81. 

Dead-head passengers, V, 33. 
Debt, owed to one deceased, V, 51. 
Deceased, debt owed to one, V, 51. 
Denunciation and obligation of resti- 
tution, III, 253. 



Desecration of fixed and movable al- 
tars, II, 121 ; III, 250, 272. 

Desertion, II, 16. 

— , in marriage, IV, 140, 216. 

Devil worship, V, 82. 

Detraction, V, 55. 

Disinheriting a son to defeat money- 
lenders, II, 299. 

Dispensation from fasting, III, 286. 

— , from hearing Mass because proxi- 
mate occasion, I, 118. 

— , from the obligation of fasting be- 
fore Communion, IV, 323. 

— , from solemn vows, V, 98. 

Disposition of restitution money. III, 

— required for saying Mass, I, 135. 
Deprivation of the Title of Ordination, 

IV, I. 

Do Christians become martyrs by dying 
in the voluntary service of plague- 
stricken patients? II, 278. 

Doubt before celebration. III, 240. 

Doubts in matters of faith, V, 9. 

Druggist, his liability, V, 53. 

Drunkards, habitual, V, 202. 

— , Is it lawful to make another person 
drunk? IV, 62, no. 

Duties of pastor toward parishioners, 

I, 213; III, 309. 

— , of a witness. III, 50. 

Duty of heirs to pay testator's debts, 

II, 301 ; III, 118. 

— , to preserve one's life, V, 22 seqq. 

EASTERN SCHISM, conversion from, 
IV, 303- 

Enmity, I, 193, 233. 

Envy, IV, 88; V, 17. 

Epilepsy before ordination, III, 141. 

Errors in changing money. III, 277. 

Excommunication incurred by contu- 
melious treatment of priests, etc., II, 

Explanation of the words nemo in 
utero matris clausus baptizari debet, 

I, 331- 
Exposition of blessed Sacrament, I, 75 ; 

III, 298. 

Extreme Unction, II, 81, 306; III, 156, 
247; IV, 97, 184; V, 224. 

— , rite for administration to more than 
one person at one time, III, 247. 

— , anointing the feet, V, 236. 

— , conditional and unconditional ad- 
ministration of, V, 228. 

— , in the case of unconsciousness, V, 

— , refusing to receive, V, 233. 

FACULTIES for absolution, V, 186. 

Faith and reason, V, 12. 

— , a virtue, V, 11. 

— , certainty of, V, 10. 

— , doubts in matters of, V, 9. 

— , impossible without prayer, V, 11 

— , means to strengthen, V, 13. 
False accusation, II, 195. 
— ■ False teeth and holy Communion, 

III, 165. 
— ■ False witness, IV, 289. 
Fasting dispensation. III, 286. 
— before holy Communion, IV, 7. 
— , dispensation from, for receiving 

Holy Communion, IV, 323 ; V, 125, 

— , and the stomach-pump, V, 131. 
Favoring his poor relations by a priest 

in the disposition of restitution 

money. III, 269. 
Feeble-minded, III, 218. 
First Mass, may a votive office be 

taken? Ill, 173. 
Forbidden books, may they be kept in 

one's possession unread? I, 83. 
Forcing a person to enter a convent, 

V, 92. 
Forgiving injuries, V, 15. 
Forty-Hours, indulgence of the, V, 220. 
— , lack of attendance, V, 220. 
Found articles, disposition of, IV, 118. 
Fraternal correction, I, 208. 
Frequent Communion, II, 265 ; III, 127. 
Furnishing of non-Catholic churches, 

II, 185. 

GAMBLING with another's counterfeit 
money, and the obligation of resti- 
tution, III, 296. 

Gifts made by Religious, V, 95. 

Giving holy Communion on Holy Satur- 
day, III, 28. 

Godparents in Baptism, I, 243. 

Graft (Bribery), V, 46. 



Greek rite, I, 26. 
Gregorian Altar, V, 151. 

— Masses, V, 151. 

HABITS, sinful, V, i, 169. 

Hack-drivers, taking patrons to disre- 
putable resorts, V, 6. 

Heir's duty to pay testator's debts, HI, 

Holy Week, I, 17; HI, 28, 99. 

Holy Orders, invalidity of, V, 238. 

— , releasing from the duties of, V, 

Husband's power over vows of wife, 
V, 78. 

Hypnotism, I, 320. 

Hysterical scrupulousness of a Nun, I, 

IGNORANT penitents, V, 199- 
Illegitimate child, his question regard- 
ing his identity, V, 85. 

— children, II, 205; V, 85. 
Immodesty in dress, IV, 22. 
Impediments, cessation of, V, 290. 
Impeditio prolis, I, 316; V, 252. 
Incendiarism, I, 261. 

Incest, I, 36. 

Indulgence, conditions, IV, 189, 192. 

— for the dying. III, 71, 203. 

— plenary, II, 21. 

— of the Forty-Hours, V, 220. 
Indulgenced Cross, III, 192. 

Injury of the neighbor justified, V, 30 

— of the neighbor, different kinds of, 
V, 37 seqq. 

— to health liability for, V, 53. 

— , participation in causing, V, 37. 

Insanity, II, 117. 

Insurance defraudation, I, 31. 

Intemperance, V, 202. 

Interruptio Missae for an urgent sick 

call I, 270. 
Invocation of the holy Name of Jesus 

indispensably required for gaining 

the indulgence for the dying? Ill, 

Irregularity, I, 44 ; III, 90. 

JEJUNIUM naturale, II, 268; III, 138. 
Jurisdiction for confession of Nuns, III, 
313; V, 188. 

— , in reserved cases, V, 183. 

— , for absolution, V, 188. 

— , for hearing confession, V, 181. 

— , for hearing confession outside the 
diocese, V, 186. 

Jurisdictio dubia, IV, 313. 

— , suppleta, IV, 233. 

Jew, can every Jew be baptized? IV, 

LAST Sacraments, sacrilegiously re- 
ceived, V, 224. 

Laws of the Church binding non-Cath- 
olics, I, 160. 

Lawyer's practice, II, 11. 

Lay confraternities forbidden in con- 
vent chapels, I, 274. 

Legacy hunting, the suspicion of, V, 
62 seqq. 

Liability for damage done by one's 
animal, II, 69. 

Life, the duty of its preservation, V, 

— , the necessity of safe-guarding, V, 
24 seqq. 

Love of our enemies, V, 15. 

— of the neighbor, V, 15. 

Low Mass on Holy Thursday, I, 17. 
Lying and deceiving ever permitted? 
Ill, 44. 

MANIFESTATION, the, of a secret, 

V, 83. 
Marks of friendship toward an enemy, 

I, 193- 
MARRIAGE. An unbaptized marnage 

candidate in the confessional, II, 253. 
— , Birth control, V, 252, 303. 
— . Withheld or simulated consent, V, 

— , with condition contrary to nature 

of marriage. III, 81 ; V, 245, 252, 255. 
— , Contracted with a condition de 

futiiro, V, 245. 
— , and matrimonial consent, V, 266. 
— . The case Castellane-Gould, V, 270. 
— . Breach of faith in mixed marriage 

regarding the education of children, 

V, 257, 261. 
— • . With a divorced party, V, 266. 
— . Assisting at non-Catholic marriage, 

I, 145. 



■ . A pastor's jurisdiction, IV, 84. 
•. Betrothals, II, 125, 128; III, 7, 13, 

-. Betrothals, informal, II, 125. 
■ . Bridegroom's rights. III, 254. 
• . Company keeping, I, 292. 
•. Concubinage, I, 277, 290; II, 100. 
•. Conditio turpis. III, 81. 
■ . Consent, IV, 176. 
• . Conversion on account of marriage, 

I, 49; V, 188. 

•. Delegation, II, 100; III, 66. 

■ . Delegation for the parochus prop- 

rius, IV, 220. 
• . Faculties of pastor and assistants 

under new marriage law, III, 7, 60 
• . Impediment of blood relationship, 

II, 58; III, 13; IV, 59; V, 297. 

• . Impediment of clandestinity, II, 


Impediment of spiritual relationship, 

II, 24, 205 ; V, 278, 290. 
■ . Impediments, power of State to 

make diriment, IV, 12. 
■ . Impedimentum criminis, I, 22 ; III, 

7; IV, 66; V, 245, 283. 
• , Impedimentum dirimens impoten- 

tiae, I, 22. 
■ . Impedimentum disparitatis cultus, 

II, 53. 

•. Impedimentum erroris, II, 166; 

IV, 75 ; V, 266. 

■ . Impedimentum impediens arising 
from betrothal, I, 128. 
■. Impedimentum ligaminis, II, 16; 

III, 81. 

•. Impedimentum metus, II, 163; III, 
122 ; V, 272. 

• . Impedimentum mixtae religionis, I, 
22; II, 180. 

■ . Impedimentum occultum, I, 268. 

•. Impedimentum publicae honestatis, 
III, 13- 

• . Cessation of impediments, V, 290. 

■ . Of infidels, heretics, and schisma- 
tics, V, 271. 

■ . Mixed marriages, may a priest offi- 
ciate when prenuptial promises are 
refused, V, 261. 

• . Mixed marriages, the sanation of, 

V, 261, 

■ . Mixed marriages, the faculty of the 

Bishop in the U. S. for the sanation 

of, V, 261. 
— . Mixed marriages, and the decree 

"ne temere," V, 285. 
— . May mixed marriage ever be ad- 
vised? I, 100. 

. Mixed marriage, I, 51, 100, 165 ; 

n, 139- 
— . Mixed marriages under the new 

decree, II, 139. 
— . A case of the decree "ne temere," 

V, 285. 
— . A marriage with several obstacles, 

V, 244. 
■ — . Presumption of life of a missing 

husband, V, 276. 
— . Without the presence of a priest, 

V, 287. 
— . Before witnesses alone, V, 287. 
— •. Impeditio prolis, I, 316; V, 252. 
— ■ . Interpellation in the Casus Apos- 

toli, I, 177. 
— . Marriage by compulsion, II, 163. 
— . Marriage by priest without banns 

and Confession, I, 290. 
— . Marriage dispensation in a case of 

temporary vows, I, 268. 
— . Marriage in danger of death, II, 

— . Marriages between Latin and 

Oriental Catholics, or of Catholics 

with Schismatics (Protestants), II, 

— . Marriages in cases of emergency, 

II, 155. 

— . Matrimonium ratura et non consu- 
matum, I, 155. 

— . Metus Reverentialis as impediment, 
IV, 253. 

— . Mutuus consensus, I, 22. 

— . Ne temere and Catholics of the 
Oriental rite, II, 129. 

— . Nullity of a marriage owing to 
non-fulfilment of an imposed condi- 
tion, II, 166. 

— . Nullity of marriage because of an- 
tecedent insanity, II, 177. 

— . Nullity of marriage owing to the 
impediment of fear. III, 122. 

— . Nuptial Blessing, IV, 105. 

— of a woman pregnant by another 
man, IV, 259. 



— . Pauline privilege, I, iii, 177. 

— . Points regarding the new marriage 
legislation, III, 7. 

— . Power of the State to make diri- 
ment impediment, IV, 12. 

— . Practical marriage cases under the 
new decree, II, 133. 

— . A Roman Catholic marries an 
Oriental Schismatic, III, 86. 

— . Revalidation after arbitrary sepa- 
ration, IV, 216. 

— . Rendered invalid by failure to ap- 
ply in sufficient time for dispensa- 
tion, IV, 142. 

— . Remedium illicitum, IV, 123. 

— . Sanatio in radice, I, 22, 51; II, 
53, 253 ; III, 113; IV, 266. 

— . Syphilis in, IV, 296. 

— . The clause Cum gravi poenitentia 
in dispensations, IV, 158. 

— . The validity of marriages among 
non-Catholics of the same sect, II, 

MASS. For whom may it be offered? 
I, 88; III, 182; V, 145. 

— and sick calls, IV, 262. 

— . Daily, the priest's obligation of, V, 

— . Dispensation from hearing on Sun- 
day, V, 136. 

— . The duty to hear Mass on Sunday, 
V, 136. 

— , For the deceased, V, 149, 151. 

— and the natural fast, V, 131, 134. 
— . The fruits of, applied to the Poor 

Souls, V, 18. 

— intentions, unlawful, V, 145. 

— intention, mistake in, IV, 156. 

— intentions, V, 158. 

— Binatio, IV, 207. 

— Confession before celebration, IV, 

— Liturgical questions, IV, 56. 

— May Mass be celebrated and holy 
Communion given at an altar upon 
which the blessed Sacrament is ex- 
posed? Ill, 298. 

— Masses for suicides. III, 182. 
— . Interruption of, V, 142. 

— , Non-alcoholic wine. Materia Vali- 

da? V, 115. 
— . The quality of and the stipend, V, 


— . Obligation to say stipend masses, 

IV, 199- 

— stipends, the turning over of, V, 156. 
— . Stipends, I, 63, 228. ■ 

■ — . Of Obligation validly heard, while 
making Confession? IV, 268. 

— . After use of the stomach pump, V, 

— . Offered for unbelievers and here- 
tics, V, 145. 

■ — . Office of first Mass, III, 173. 

— . Said in fermented bread, I, 26. 

— . Said without wine, III, 76. 

— ■ . Said with wine mixed with water, 
III, 244. 

■ — . When are the words calicem salu- 
taris accipiam to be spoken? Ill, 303. 

■ — . Wine without water, IV, 226. 

Masses, reduction of the number of, V, 

— , reduction of the stipend, V, 154. 

Means by which to induce those seri- 
ously sick to receive the Sacraments, 
I, 77- 

— to strengthen the faith, V, 13. 
Medal, the scapular, V, 222. 
Medical secret, I, 219. 

Members of Religious Orders and per- 
sonal property, II, 303. 

Mistakes in prayers of the Mass, I, 92 ; 
III, 306. 

Morning and evening prayers, V, 76. 

Morphine habit, i, 255. 

Musician's cooperation by playing in 
Protestant churches, and at frivolous 
dances, II, 225. 

NAME of church, may it be changed? 
I, 265. 

Near occasion with relation to company- 
keeping, I, 292. 

• — Near occasion with relation to going 
to church, I, 118. 

Negotiatio forbidden to the clergy, IV, 

Nuns as godparents, I, 243 ; V, 113. 

— may not cooperate in confraternities, 
I, 274. 

OATH, obligation of a witness under, 

V, 73. 

— , statements under, V, 7Z- 
Obedientia canonica, II, 188. 



Objections of science against faith, V, 


Oifice of subdeacon on day of ordina- 
tion, III, 56. 

Oleum catechumenorum used for Ex- 
treme Unction, II, 81. 

Oleum iniirmorum used for Baptism, 
III, 109. 

Operation, new, in childbirth, IV, 249. 

— , with danger to life, V, 24 seqq. 

Orders, Religious, absolution of mem- 
bers of, V, 188. 

— , Religious, the heirs of their de- 
ceased members, V, 51. 

Ordination, II, 236; III, 141. 

— , invalid, and the seal of confession, 
V, 241. 

— , invalidity of, V, 238, 241. 

— , releasing from the duties of, V, 

— , repetition of, V, 241. 

Ordo sepeliendi parvulos-adultos, II, 

Ownership, when transferred, V, 20. 

PAGELLA, S. Poenitentiariae, V, 293. 

Parents, as sponsors for Baptism or 
Confirmation, V, 114. 

Partiality in Bishop's appointment not 
simony, IV, 153. 

Pastoral prudence, II, 207. 

Pastor's duty toward parishioners. III, 

Peregrini, absolution of, V, 186. 

Perfect contrition as valid substitute 
for Confession, III, 170. 

Perpetual vows, and the disposition of 
property, V, 95. 

Personal sacrilege, II, 117. 

Pilferings of provisions : a case of res- 
titution, II, 192. 

Poor, the spiritual advantages of the, 
V, 17 seqq. 

Poor Souls, apparition of, V, 210. 

Possessor bonae fidei and the duty of 
restitution. III, 330; V, 40. 

Prayer, V, y6. 

Presumption of life of a missing hus- 
band, V, 276. 

— , sin, mistaken idea of, IV, 286. 

Priests, as sponsors for Baptism or 
Confirmation, V, 114. 

— , support of erring, IV, i. 
Private revelations, I, 123. 
Probabilism, II, 272. 
Procurantes abortum, who incurs the 

censure ? Ill, 265. 
Profanation of church, II, 281. 
Professional secrecy, I, 219. 
Promise a binding contract, I, 86. 
— ^ of secrecy, when binding, V, 83. 

— in the matter of a legacy, V, 65, 68. 
— , character of a, V, 65. 
Property, concealing the real value of, 

V, 71. 
Protestants and the commandments of 

the Church, IV, 330. 
Public sinners not admitted to Holy 

Communion, V, 309. 
Purchase of stolen goods, II, 183. 
"Pure Virgin," sense of the words in 

constitution of Religious Order, IV, 


QUESTIONING a penitent in the con- 
fessional, V, 191. 

RACE suicide, I, 316; V, 252, 303. 
Railway disaster caused by mischief 

and duty of restitution, II, 179. 
Receiving Holy Communion several 

times in the same day, V, 120. 
Reconciliatio ecclesiae, II, 281. 
Relic, doubtful, IV, 162. 
Remedium illicitum, IV, 123. 
Renting rooms for clandestine meetings, 

V, 4. 
Renting houses for evil purposes, V, 7. 

V, 7. 
Repetition of Extreme Unction during 

same illness, II, 306. 
Replating an indulgenced cross allowed ? 

Ill, 192. 
Requiem Masses in church where the 

blessed Sacrament is exposed, I, 75. 
Reserved cases, II, 231; III, 238; V, 


— in an Order, I, 303. 
Responsibility for Mass stipends, I, 228 ; 

V, 156. 
Restitution (see also special heads), I, 
31, 71, 108, 171, 198, 202, 261, 272; 
II, 62, 69, 108, 158, 179, 183, 192, 
19s. 299; III, 94, 153, 160, 253, 269, 



277, 296, 330, 332; IV, 18, 44, 116, 

118, 136; V, 20, 33, 36, 40, 42, 45; 

57, 61, 66, 72, 197. 
Restitution by members of religious 
Orders, III, 160. 

— in the case of an insurance agent, 
V, 42. 

— in the case of graft, V, 46 seqq. 

— in the case of calumniating the dead, 

V, 57. 

— on account of cooperation, V, 45. 
— , moral impossibility of, V, 61. 
Restrictio mentalis, III, 288. 

Rich, the spiritual advantages of, V, 

Riding in cars without paying fares, 

V, 33. 
Right of a bishop to suspend a priest 

without trial, I, 248. 
Risk, priest must take, to give last 

Sacraments, IV, 79. 

SACRAMENT of Holy Orders, a case 

of invalidity of, V, 238. 
Sacraments, last, sacrilegiously received, 

V, 224. 
— , risk priest must take to give, IV, 

Sacred Penitentiary, III, 175. 
Safe-guarding life, the necessity of, V, 

"Salted" gold mine, IV, 136. 
Scandal by immodesty in dress, IV, 22. 
— , V, 209. 

Scapular medal, the, V, 222. 
Science, objections of, against faith, V, 

Schism, conversion from Eastern, IV, 

Scrupulosity, IV, 251. 
Scrupulousness, I, 57. 
Seal of Confession, I, 65, 73 ; III, 324 ; 

IV, 124, 148, 235 ; V, 193- 
Secrecy, the promise of, when binding, 

V, 83. 

Secret compensation, II, 75, 108, 183; 
III, 288, 332; IV, 217. 

— , knowledge, the obligation to di- 
vulge, V, 83. 

— , societies, II, 38; IV, 71. 

— , the manifestation of a, V, 83. 

Servile work on Sunday, IV, 102. 

Sham bidding at auction, IV, 160. 

Sick calls, I, 184, 189. 

— , during Mass, I, 270. 

Sick call, or parochial Mass, IV, 262. 

Sick, the, and the receiving of Holy 

Communion, V, 125. 
Simony, partiality in Bishop's appoint- 
ment not, IV, 153. 
Simple vows and reserved cases, II, 231. 
— , and the disposition of property, V, 

Sinful habits, V, i. 
Sinners, public, not admitted to Holy 

Communion, V, 309. 
Sins, solitary, V, i. 
— , venial and scandal, V, 209. 
Soldiers, the absolution of, V, 218. 
Son's duty toward his father, I, 233. 
Souls, the Poor and the fruits of Holy 

Mass, V, 18. 
Spiritistic seances. III, 20; V, 81. 
Sponsors, non-Catholic, V, 102. 
Sponsorship, invalid, II, 210. 
Stealing ideas, I, 237. 
Stolen goods, benefiting by, V, 36. 
Stomach-pump, its use before and after 

Mass or holy Communion, III, 138; 

V, 131. 
Street confessions, V, 216. 
Subdeacon, II, 29 ; III, 56. 
Suicide's bequest for Masses, III, 182, 
Suicide's burial, III, 212. 
Sunday, servile work on, IV, 102. 
Support of erring priests, IV, i. 
Superstitious faith in prayers. III, 200. 
Superstition, V, 8r. 
Suspension, I, 44, 248; III, 90, 104. 
Suspicion thrown on some one else, III, 

Syphilis in marriage, IV, 296. 


Telepathic phenomena, II, 212. 

Temporal possessions, the spiritual ad- 
vantages of, V, 17. 

Temptations against faith, V, 11. 

Thief, obligation of restitution of, V, 

— , v/ife and children of a, V, 36. 

Threats of suicide, I, 57. 

Title of ordination, deprivation of, IV, 



Traveling salesman's expenses. III, 332. 
Trentain, the Gregorian, V, 151. 

VALIDATION of a Priest's functions, 

V, 241. 
Venial sins, V, 205. 

— and scandal, V, 209. 

Viaticum, repeated administration of, 

V, 226. 
Vocation, religious, V, 90. 
Vow, definition. III, 292. 

— to enter an Order, I, 257. 
— , release from, IV, 188. 

— of celibacy, I, 67, 268. 

Vows, simple, and reserved cases, II, 

— , solemn dispensation from, V, 98. 

— , simple or perpetual and the disposi- 
tion of property, V, 95. 

— , the power to set aside, V, 77. 

— of husband or wife, V, 78. 
WHEN in holy Mass are the words 

Calicem Salutaris accipiam to be 
spoken? Ill, 303. 

— is ownership transferred? V, 20. 
Will, disposition of witnesses, IV, 178. 
— , executing the provisions of a, IV, 

Wine, non-alcoholic — Materia Valida? 
V, 115. 

— without water at Mass, IV, 226. 
Witness, false, IV, 289. 

— , his duty, III, 50. 

Witnesses withholding facts, V, 73. 

Who incurs the censure : Procurantes 
abortum effectu secuto ? Ill, 265. 

Woman who has left her husband, con- 
fession of, IV, 140. 

Date Due 



m- 6 '92 





Demco 293-5 

5282 00175 2453 

40747 ^758